Minnesota Expunges Nearly 58K Cannabis Records Nine Months Post-Legalization

Minnesota, one of the latest states to legalize adult-use cannabis, has achieved a significant milestone by expunging low-level cannabis convictions for thousands of residents just nine months after the legislation was enacted.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced that records qualifying for expungement under the state’s Adult-Use Cannabis Act have been removed from public view on the Minnesota Criminal History System (CHS).

Ahead of the planned schedule, the Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) expunged 57,780 records. Meanwhile, the state’s Judicial Branch determined that 213 records were ineligible for expungement.

Minnesota Takes Swift Action on Expungements Following Cannabis Reform

BCA Superintendent Drew Evans expressed satisfaction with the progress, stating, “We are pleased to be able to deliver on this legislative priority. Minnesotans will see changes to their records immediately, and additional expungements will continue in the months and years ahead.”

The Adult-Use Cannabis Act, effective August 1, 2023, decriminalized cannabis and allowed adults over 21 to possess, use, and grow cannabis at home. The law permits adults to possess up to two pounds of cannabis in a private residence, transport up to eight grams of cannabis concentrates, and have edible products containing up to 800 mg of THC. Additionally, adults can cultivate up to eight cannabis plants, with a maximum of four mature plants, in a secured, private space.

Since the law’s enactment, the BCA has been diligently identifying records eligible for automatic expungement, incorporating coding changes to ensure these records are sealed from public access.

A Strong Start to a Comprehensive Process

The next step involves notifying local law enforcement agencies to expunge their records. Felony-level convictions are still under review by the Cannabis Expungements Board, a process expected to take years due to the need for individual case reviews.

Cannabis Expungements Board Executive Director James Rowader commented, “The Cannabis Expungement Board is tasked with the thoughtful and careful review of cannabis-related felonies, and we are quickly building a team to accomplish this work. It is encouraging to see misdemeanor cannabis records moving toward expungement. These actions will have a lasting equity impact on communities across Minnesota.”

Notices on CHS records now inform viewers of potential future changes due to the new cannabis legislation. The BCA will continue reviewing records next year to identify and expunge additional records that were still in process during the 2024 expungements.

The legislation mandates the BCA to report summary data and the total number of cleared cases to legislative committees.

Future Expungements and the Clean Slate Act

A separate law, the Clean Slate Act, passed in 2023, will further facilitate automatic expungement of records that currently require a court order. Effective January 1, 2025, the BCA aims to implement automatic expungements related to this law before the deadline.

As Minnesota progresses with these reforms, legislators and cannabis industry professionals are preparing for the launch of the state’s recreational cannabis market. Initially estimated for the first quarter of 2024, the launch might be delayed to allow more time for drafting regulations and issuing licenses.


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