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Cannabis Charges Are Now Being Expunged in Certain States

If you have a marijuana conviction in a state which has gone legal you are probably wondering what is going to happen to your conviction. Clearly, everyone is up to have their criminal records cleared out. The good news is that there are some states which have already started forgiving their residents for their marijuana convictions and misdemeanors.

One of the first states to start expunging marijuana convictions were Colorado, Oregon, and Maryland. However, that didn’t mean all of the people convicted for marijuana crimes has been released or had their convictions cleared out.

According to an analysis made by ACLU’s, 88% of the 8.2 million marijuana arrests between the years of 2001 and 2010 were due to the individuals possessing marijuana. Not to mention the racial bias on these arrests. Even though the rates of marijuana usage are pretty much the same between black and whites, blacks are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana crimes.

Not only this is problematic, but the number of arrests for possessing big amounts of marijuana is actually smaller than the number of people who are arrested for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Nowadays, Massachusetts, Oregon, Maryland, Colorado, California, Vermont, Washington, D.C., the cities of Denver, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle are some of the jurisdictions that have chosen to expunge individuals for their marijuana crimes.

Each state has different expungement laws. Some of them only ease the process of expunging their crimes, such as Colorado.


Individuals in California are able to file a petition to have their marijuana convictions cleared or reduced. As of San Diego and San Francisco, the marijuana convictions are expunged from the city records automatically.


A law allows individuals convicted of misdemeanor use or possession to file a petition to seal their conviction which is not considered offenses.


A person with a misdemeanor for marijuana possession can file a petition for an expungement.


Any person convicted of possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana needs to wait four years to file a petition for an expungement. To get a medical cannabis card in Maryland, consult veriheal.


Individuals with marijuana convictions can either have them reduced or cleared out according to the new laws. The state’s priority is to expunge any conviction that happened when the individual was under 21.


In 2016, the former Gov. Peter Shumlin offered forgiveness to individuals who were convicted under the old marijuana laws provided if they applied for this. Out of 10,000 people convicted, just 192 individuals applied.

Washington, D.C.

The records of individuals with any marijuana conviction that has been decriminalized since 2015 can be sealed, once they file a petition.

The Cannabis and Social Policy Center is currently advocating for the automatic expungement of any cannabis convictions in the state of Washington. In a less positive scenario, the CSPC is proposing that at least the state makes it easier for the convicted individuals to be expunged of their cannabis convictions from their criminal records.

Even though Washington doesn’t have any laws releasing individuals from their marijuana convictions, officials of Seattle announced in February 2018 that they were forgiving past misdemeanor marijuana possession charges.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a conference “For thousands of people in Washington state. A misdemeanor marijuana conviction had huge implications: It could be a barrier to housing, to getting credit, to getting good jobs and education. It is a necessary step to right the wrongs of what was a failed war on drugs.”

Maine legislators are currently working on a bill that would seal or expunge any criminal marijuana convictions. However, the bill details haven’t been released yet.

New Jersey is being promised as the 10th U.S. state that is going to fully legalize marijuana, and in the state’s bill there’s a “how to get marijuana offenses expunged.” So, it seems we’ll have another state joining the list.

It is expected that as legalization spreads around the U.S., more states are inclined to adhere to expungement laws and then maybe people will finally get their criminal records free of charges.

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