In a significant move towards criminal justice reform, Missouri has successfully expunged nearly 100,000 cannabis-related convictions. Following last year’s voter approval of a constitutional amendment for adult-use cannabis, this progression signifies a vital move toward correcting historical injustices.
The road to expungement
According to the newly implemented law, almost every misdemeanor cannabis conviction was supposed to be expunged by June 8. However, this deadline does not apply to offenders who are still in prison or are under supervision by the Department of Corrections. Felony convictions related to marijuana are expected to be expunged by December 8.
While state officials have not technically met this deadline, as long as courts continue making a good-faith effort to comply, advocates will remain satisfied. However, if communities fail to actively work on the expungement process, possible lawsuits may arise.
The importance of expungements
Expunging these misdemeanors and felonies from individuals’ records is significant, as such convictions often come with a stigma that severely limits their opportunities for future success. By erasing these convictions, people can now gain access to jobs, housing, education, and other necessities often denied due to their criminal records.
Moreover, the expungement of these convictions serves as a form of restorative justice for communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs, particularly Black and Brown individuals who have been targeted at significantly higher rates than their white counterparts.
The future of cannabis laws and expungement in Missouri
Although much work remains to be done, progress is undeniably being made in Missouri regarding implementing effective cannabis laws and regulations. With nearly 100,000 convictions already expunged, advocates for criminal justice reform can celebrate this milestone while continuing to push for comprehensive changes in policies around marijuana possession and use.
Lessons for other states
Missouri’s example is an important case study for other states considering the legalization of adult-use cannabis or the implementation of similar expungement processes. This rapidly evolving industry can achieve positive change and social equity by keeping communication lines open between legislators, advocacy groups, and law enforcement officials.