Democrat Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation permitting those with past marijuana convictions to have their records expunged.
House Bill 8355/S. 2447 allows those with past convictions for crimes involving the possession of less than one ounce of cannabis to petition the court to seek an order of expungement. It states, “[W]here the court has determined that all conditions of the original criminal sentence have been completed, … the court [will] order the expungement without cost to the petitioner.” The law took effect upon passage.
State lawmakers decriminalzed minor marijuana possession offenses in 2013.
“If an act has been decriminalized since a person was charged and paid their price for it, that person shouldn’t have to keep paying the price in the form of being denied jobs and other opportunities because of their criminal record,” bill sponsor Sen. Harold Metts said in a statement. “Let them move on, and they can better support themselves and their families and contribute to our communities and our state.”
Delaware lawmakers passed similar legislation this month permitting the expungement of marijuana-related offenses that have since been decriminalized. That bill is awaiting action from the Governor. Maryland enacted a similar law in 2017.
Both Massachusetts and Oregon have enacted legislation vacating the convictions of marijuana-related crimes that are now defined as legal under state law. In California, where voters elected to legalize the adult use of marijuana in 2016, District Attorneys in various cities and counties – including San Francisco and San Diego – are automatically reviewing and dismissing thousands of past marijuana-related convictions.