Missouri residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana on November 8, 2022. The Missouri legislature presented a state constitutional amendment to the public. Amendment 3 to the Missouri Constitution was on the ballot at the November 2022 election. A majority of registered voters said “Yes” to not only legalizing marijuana but also to allowing people previously convicted of certain marijuana-related offenses to have those convictions dismissed and cleared from their criminal records.
Although 20 other states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, Missouri is one of only five states that take this extra step of removing past offenses from records.
Under this amendment, all circuit courts must order the “expungement” of any criminal history records of all misdemeanor marijuana offenses for anyone who is no longer incarcerated within 6 months. In addition, any person currently incarcerated, serving a sentence, or on probation for a marijuana offense involving three pounds or less of marijuana may petition the sentencing court to vacate the sentence, order immediate release, and expungement of all government records of the case. See Amendment 3 §7(a).
Having a criminal record “expunged” means the case is permanently destroyed/erased from all records as if it didn’t happen. Once the court grants an expungement petition, that record will then be unavailable to the public. The expungement will be legally effective immediately. Those whose petitions are granted can then truthfully indicate on employment and housing applications that they are not the subject of that criminal case.
Misdemeanor offenses, felony possession of up to 3 pounds, and convictions for possession and paraphernalia will automatically be expunged. “Automatic” means the person does not have to do anything. Courts must review their databases and identify persons eligible for automatic conviction record relief. Those with convictions of more than 3 pounds must still petition the courts but must have completed their sentence before applying. Offenses related to violence, driving while impaired, or selling to a minor are not eligible for expungement under this amendment.
Records of these convictions will be cleared, and those currently serving a sentence will have the rest of their sentences vacated. If you are eligible and your record is not expunged, you should contact the court. If you have moved, you must go to the court where you were charged and give them your updated address. You will receive a letter notifying you when your conviction has been expunged.
When to expect the relief depends on the recency and level of the previous marijuana offense. On December 8, 2022, Missouri state courts started issuing expungements for people currently on probation or parole for offenses involving no more than 3 pounds of marijuana. All other former offenders should expect their records ordered expunged beginning the second half of 2023.
Since this relief is automatic through the state, it’s not a service we can assist you with. However, if you believe your record should have been expunged and wasn’t, or for your other expungement needs in Missouri, please contact us.
by Beth DeLuco, attorney