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Prosecutors in San Francisco will throw out thousands of marijuana-related convictions of residents dating back to 1975.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón said Wednesday that his office will dismiss and seal over three thousand misdemeanor convictions dating back before the state's legalization of marijuana went into effect, with no action necessary from those who were convicted.

Prosecutors will also review up to 4,940 felony convictions and consider reducing them to misdemeanors.

"A criminal conviction can be a barrier to employment, housing and other benefits, so instead of waiting for the community to take action, we're taking action for the community," he added.

Gascón's office also noted racial discrepancies in marijuana arrests and sentencing. In 2000, African-Americans were 7.8 percent of San Francisco's population but comprised 41 percent of marijuana arrests.

By 2010 and 2011, African-Americans made up about half of the marijuana-related arrests, yet represented only 6 percent of the city's population, according to the district attorney's office.

In his statement, Gascón said San Francisco was "taking the lead to undo the damage that this country's disastrous, failed drug war has had on the nation and on communities of colour in particular."

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