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Maine Gov Signs Legislation Making Pathway For Cannabis Expungements

NORML demands public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of marijuana prohibition and criminalization

Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills has signed legislation (LD 2236) into law providing for the sealing of marijuana-related criminal records.

The measure permits those with marijuana-related convictions for activities that have since been legalized to petition the courts to have their criminal record sealed. Those with marijuana possession and cultivation records are eligible for legal relief.

Maine is the 25th state to enact legislation explicitly facilitating the expungement of marijuana-specific convictions. Publicly available data compiled by NORML finds that state courts have either expunged or sealed the records of more than two million marijuana-related cases as a result of these laws.

NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano expressed support for the new law, stating: “Millions of Americans unduly carry the burden and stigma of a past conviction for behavior that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”

Maine’s new law differs from those enacted in several others states, including California, Missouri, New Jersey, and New York. In those states, courts are mandated to review records and issue expungements to anyone with a qualifying conviction. By contrast, Maine’s law requires those with eligible convictions to proactively petition the courts for a post-judgement motion.

Separate legislation that sought to provide for state-initiated expungements was rejected by lawmakers, some of whom argued that doing so would be unduly expensive.

Nationwide polling compiled by YouGov reports that nearly six in ten Americans support expunging marijuana-related convictions for non-violent offenses.

This article was republished from NORML. The full text of their report, Marijuana Pardons and Expungements: By the Numbers, is available.