Missouri state officials have expunged the marijuana-related criminal records of more than 100,000 individuals since cannabis was legalized for recreational use.

The adult-use marijuana legalization law came into effect on December 8, 2022, following a voter-approved ballot on the issue the previous month.

The change to Missouri’s marijuana laws included a provision stipulating that officials must expunge nonviolent cannabis-related convictions within one year.

“This automatic expungement of marijuana cases is one of the most significant parts of Article XIV,” said NORML Board Member and co-author of the new cannabis law Dan Viets. “In addition to stopping approximately 20,000 marijuana arrests each year, the law now requires the state government to undo much of the damage which was inflicted on hundreds of thousands of Missourians during the past 100 years.”

As it stands, around 103,000 such criminal records have been expunged but, as Viets notes, there remains many more cases for the courts to pore through.

“The courts are going to need more time to finish the job, and in fact, it might be years before all the cases from the past century are expunged,” Viets said. “We’ve had more than 100 years of marijuana prohibition in Missouri. Many of the older cases have never been put on a database. So, it’s going to take a lot of physical work to locate those paper records in boxes and attics and go through them.”

To this end, Missouri court officials have requested $3.7 million to carry out further marijuana expungements in this budget year. Last year, lawmakers approved more than $4.5 million for the courts to finance the huge numbers of expungements required by the law change, with an additional $2.5 million sanctioned later in the year to keep up with the workload.

This is part of a now well-established trend among states that have legalized recreational cannabis. In total, 24 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that compel state officials to expunge (or seal) the criminal records of people with low-level cannabis convictions.

Since 2018, more than 10,000 pardons and 1.7 million expungements have been granted by state and court officials nationwide for cannabis-related convictions.

state marijuana laws