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When recreational cannabis is on the ballot, it’s essential to ask: “If marijuana becomes legal, will charges be dropped?” When legislation makes certain cannabis crimes legal, will life change for those previously charged with those crimes?

Now that marijuana is legal in Missouri, nonviolent cannabis crimes will soon be wiped from records, helping residents secure jobs, housing, and more. How long will this process take? Will incarcerated individuals with cannabis arrests be released?

Here, Elevate Holistics will discuss cannabis expungement, what expungement means for cannabis prisoners and marijuana charges in Missouri, and marijuana arrests by the numbers in the US – including marijuana arrests in Missouri. 

Let’s jump into the topic of marijuana expungement.

What is Expungement?

First off, what does expungement mean? Expungement is when the court seals or destroys the record of a criminal conviction, removing it from an individual’s criminal and public records.

Regarding cannabis, it means that when a change in legislation makes certain cannabis crimes legal, the courts can erase the record of those crimes. Typically, incarcerated individuals or those on parole must petition to vacate their sentence and have expungement.

For Missouri, marijuana expungement will soon go into effect with the passing of Amendment 3 – the legalization of recreational, adult-use cannabis.

Now, let’s get into cannabis expungement in Missouri. Will cannabis prisoners be released for marijuana arrests in Missouri?

Will There Be Cannabis Expungement Missouri?

Amendment 3, now Article 14, Section 2 of the Missouri Constitution, goes into effect on December 8, 2022. Missouri will have six months to enforce marijuana expungement for convictions from thousands of MO cannabis arrests. 

Many individuals with nonviolent offenses involving 3 pounds of cannabis or less will automatically have marijuana charges expunged. However, for cannabis prisoners, it will take some time to be released from incarceration.

Missouri Cannabis Expungement 

By June 8, 2023, anyone with a misdemeanor marijuana offense that is no longer incarcerated or under the supervision of the department of corrections should have an automatic expungement.

  • Missouri courts plan to issue adjudications for cases involving misdemeanor marijuana offenses within 90 days after the amendment goes into effect.
  • Anyone currently incarcerated due to a misdemeanor marijuana offense or a class E or D felony involving three pounds or less of marijuana can petition to vacate the sentence and order the expungement of their records. The sentencing courts can deny certain expungements on “good cause for denial.”
  • The courts should complete adjudication for cases involving class E felony marijuana offenses within 180 days after the amendment goes into effect.
  • The courts would issue adjudications for class D felonies involving 3 pounds or less of marijuana within 270 days after the amendment goes into effect.
  • Anyone on probation or parole for marijuana-related misdemeanors and low-level felonies also must petition to vacate the sentence and order the expungement of their records.
  • For class A, B C, or D felony offenses of more than three pounds of marijuana possession, Missouri courts will order the expungement of criminal history records upon completion of state supervision.
  • The defendant should contact an attorney for marijuana possession charges over 3 pounds.

Marijuana Arrests by the Numbers

What about the statistics? Let’s discuss marijuana arrests by the numbers in MO and marijuana arrests in the US. Arrests don’t always lead to convictions.

First, what amount of cannabis arrests have the Show-Me state been seeing? 

Marijuana Arrests in Missouri 

According to the National Incident-Based Reporting System, Missouri saw 9,723 marijuana arrests in 2021, decreasing from years prior. In 2018, the total amount of marijuana arrests reported in Missouri was 16,631.

According to the FBI Crime Data Explorer, marijuana arrests in Ripley County, Missouri, are low compared to many parts of the state.

Marijuana Arrests in the US

Let’s look at the bigger picture. What about marijuana arrests in the US? According to the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, state and local law enforcement agencies reported 170,856 cannabis arrests in 2021, down from over 226,000 in 2020.

The top six states with arrests for cannabis crimes between 2017 and 2021 are Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Missouri.

What About Maryland’s Marijuana Expungement?

This year, Maryland joined Missouri in legalizing adult-use cannabis in the US.

Looking at marijuana arrests by the numbers, Maryland saw a total of 16,885 marijuana arrests in 2019, decreasing by almost 2,000 from the year prior. The amount of Maryland marijuana arrests in 2020 and 2021 is inconclusive, according to NORML.

By July 1, 2024, cannabis expungement in Maryland will automatically clear all simple possession charges when it’s the only charge.

In addition, MD residents can file a petition for the state to remove charges on the Maryland Judiciary’s expungement page for $30.

Anyone with an intent to distribute charge, which previously stayed on Maryland records for 15 years, can now have their charge removed after three years.

So what will happen to cannabis prisoners in Maryland? Those currently incarcerated on simple possession charges can petition the court for resentencing and release.

Elevate Your Well-being with Medical Cannabis

Here at Elevate Holistics, we hope that marijuana arrests in the US (and around the world) continue to lessen while marijuana expungement broadens.

We also believe that everyone deserves the best throughout their cannabis journey. If marijuana medically helps you, it’s time to get your medical marijuana card to reap all of the benefits.

Elevate Holistics is a telemedicine medical marijuana clinic that virtually connects patients to doctors for medical cannabis recommendations. Our process is safe, 100% online, and hassle-free – offering video chat doctor’s appointments for quick and easy MMJ approval.

You deserve the best. Book an MMJ card doctor’s appointment with Elevate Holistics today.

Get Your MMJ Card Right From Home

Elevate Holistics’ process is quick, affordable, and done entirely online. It’s never been so easy.

About the author

Ally Hilbert is the Content and SEO Manager here at Elevate Holistics, working to publish and run Elevate’s blogs and landing pages, as well as conduct keyword research, competitor analysis, and more. After having brain surgery at the age of 17, Ally became fascinated with medical cannabis and its benefits, and, at 18, had her first CBD-related piece published. Today, she’s been writing about cannabis for the past six years, and simply can’t think of a better company to get to do it for. When she’s not writing or editing, Ally’s side-by-side with her pup Sadie in Seattle.
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