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updated: 2/8/2018 2:29 PM

Seattle clears pot convictions, following San Francisco lead

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  • Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, looks on as Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.

    Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, looks on as Mayor Jenny Durkan speaks at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.
    Associated Press

  • Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, second right, greets pastors Robert Jeffrey, left, Wilhelmina Daniel and Ricky Willis before beginning a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.

    Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, second right, greets pastors Robert Jeffrey, left, Wilhelmina Daniel and Ricky Willis before beginning a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.
    Associated Press

  • Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, steps back after speaking as Mayor Jenny Durkan moves to the microphone at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council-member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.

    Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes, left, steps back after speaking as Mayor Jenny Durkan moves to the microphone at a news conference announcing plans for the city to move to vacate misdemeanor marijuana possession convictions, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Seattle. City Council-member Bruce Harrell looks on at right. Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.
    Associated Press

 
 

SEATTLE -- Five years after Washington state legalized marijuana, Seattle officials say they're moving to automatically clear past misdemeanor convictions for pot possession. San Francisco recently took the same step.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and City Attorney Pete Holmes say they want to help undo damage from the drug war they say resulted in unfairly high arrest rates for minority communities.

Several U.S. cities and states have allowed people to petition to have their pot convictions vacated or sealed.

But Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego appear to be the only major jurisdictions erasing convictions en masse.

Holmes says he expects to clear 500 to 600 convictions dating to 1997.

Seattle has long had a tolerant approach to low-level pot crimes.

Holmes hasn't prosecuted them since taking office in 2010.

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