The Minnesota State Legislature has been working since the beginning of the year on legislation that would legalize the possession and use of marijuana in the state. When this bill passes, it will no longer be illegal for Minnesotans to possess up to two pounds of marijuana. But this begs the question: What happens to my charges relating to marijuana possession BEFORE Minnesota made marijuana possession legal? The bill considered by the legislature allows for automatic expungement of low-level marijuana convictions and potential expungement for felony cannabis offenses.
Automatic Expungement for Low Level Cannabis Offenses
Come August 1, 2023, any person charged with, convicted of, or arrested for a nonfelony cannabis offense is eligible for automatic expungement of their record. If you are eligible for automatic expungement, the State, through the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, will send you a notice informing you that your record will be expunged within 60 days of the notice being sent out. No application, petition, or motion is required, which is the usual process. The State will also notify all relevant law enforcement agencies of your expungement and require them to seal all records relating to your expungement. According to a Star Tribune article from February, more than 60,000 cases in Minnesota are eligible for automatic expungement. For low level cannabis offenses, the biggest difference regarding expungement between this new law and before is that your record will be sealed automatically, at no cost to you.
Potential Expungement for Felony Level Cannabis Offenses
Unlike nonfelony cannabis offenses, people convicted of a felony cannabis offense do not get their records automatically expunged. Instead, to get a felony cannabis offense expunged, the newly created Cannabis Expungement Board would have to review your case and circumstances. Some of the things the Board may consider are whether a deadly weapon or intentional bodily injury was involved in the offense. Additionally, the Board may seek oral or written statements from victims of the offense or relevant law enforcement officials. Based on the bill, the Cannabis Expungement Board should grant expungement of felony cannabis offenses, unless the Board believes that expungement would create a public safety risk. According to the Star Tribune, it is difficult to determine the number of people who are eligible for expungement of felony related offenses because the criminal history system used by Minnesota does not sort felony drug offenses by the type of drug that was used.
Additionally, under this bill, expungement of a cannabis offense restores your right to possession of a firearm without requiring a formal petition for restoration under Minn. Stat. § 609.165. As long as your cannabis offense is expunged, it does not matter whether your cannabis offense was a felony or non-felony.
If you believe that you are eligible for automatic expungement, but have not received any notice from the State, reach out to one of our attorneys to see if you qualify. Also, contact us if you believe that you are eligible for potential expungement of your felony cannabis offense.