Handcuff leaf



Any forms of decriminalisation inevitably pose the question: what about all those who were criminalised beforehand?

In this edited extract of the upcoming third edition of Transform’s book How to Regulate Cannabis: A Practical Guide we explore key lessons in this rapidly evolving field of policy making. Other new content from the book, exploring issues around equitable cannabis markets is available here.

The 2016 second edition of the guide is available here.

cannabis book cover


The historic failures of cannabis criminalisation are not simply erased through repealing or amending laws. The wider legacy of mass criminalisation is etched into millions of criminal records, creating an enduring stigma, perpetuating the trauma of unjust criminalisation by drastically reducing life opportunities. For decades, cannabis law enforcement has been disproportionately targeted at marginalised communities. It is, therefore, these communities who have carried the heaviest burden of criminalisation. Black people are nearly four times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than white people in the US, and nearly nine times more likely to be stopped and searched for drugs in the UK. A third of such searches are for suspected cannabis possession.1,2 For immigrant communities, this can fuel insecurity of residency status, reduce access to social support, or be used to initiate deportation proceedings.

The ongoing criminalisation of people who committed cannabis offences before we moved the goalposts is inevitably arbitrary, inconsistent and unjust, undermining vital social justice goals of regulation.

It is necessary, therefore, for regulating jurisdictions to respond to this issue from the outset by removing criminal records for activities previously criminalised but now perfectly within the scope of the law. However, there are different ways that legalising jurisdictions have sought to go about achieving this. Many of these are indicative of the wider legal framework within which states are acting, and are bound by, but the variety of approaches taken provide important lessons for regulating jurisdictions going forward.

There are three key mechanisms through which criminal record removal has been addressed: expungement, record sealing and criminal pardons. Each of these approaches is considered in turn below. A second question relates to the implementation of these mechanisms, which may rely on a petition from an affected individual, or may be ‘automatic’ and be conducted by government or state apparatus. The merits of these contrasting approaches are analysed following discussion of the different record removal mechanisms.

Expungement

‘Expungement’ quite literally means to strike out, eliminate, delete, or efface entirely. In the context of criminal records, it refers to the destruction or deletion of an individual’s criminal record, though is often used more generally (and less accurately) to encompass the broad range of measures that may be taken to deal with criminal records (including the sealing, rather than deletion, of records — see below). In Massachusetts law, expungement is defined as:

“[T]he permanent erasure or destruction of a record so that the record is no longer accessible to, or maintained by, the court, any criminal justice agencies or any other state agency, municipal agency or county agency. If the record contains information on a person other than the petitioner, it may be maintained with all identifying information of the petitioner permanently obliterated or erased”3

Expungement is, therefore, the most effective mechanism to remove past criminal records. Criminal records encompass a broad range of interaction with the criminal justice system, but expungement measures may specifically require the court to “issue an order to expunge all records and files related to the arrest, citation, investigation, charge, adjudication of guilt, criminal proceedings, and probation related to the sentence” (Vermont).4 The effect of expungement is (or should be) that “the person whose record is expunged shall be treated in all respects as if he or she had never been arrested, convicted, or sentenced for the offense”, and that they “shall not be required to acknowledge the existence of such a criminal history record" in relation to employment questionnaires or other circumstances (Vermont).5,6 The affected individual “may answer ‘no record’ with respect to an inquiry herein relative to prior arrests, criminal court appearances, juvenile court appearances, adjudications, or convictions” and expunged records shall not be admissible “in evidence or used in any way in any court proceedings or hearings before any boards or commissions or in determining suitability for the practice of any trade or profession requiring licensure” (Massachusetts).7

The danger with keeping criminal records in existence, but simply sealed, or hidden, is that they may still serve to create stigma for individuals subject to them — as explored below. Completely eradicating evidence of interaction with the criminal justice system is the most effective way to erase this stigma and decriminalise individuals previously subject to law enforcement under prohibition. Of course, there may be procedural issues related with expungement — how can you be sure your record has actually been expunged? — which may be addressed through issuance of confirmatory documents. In Vermont, for example, a certificate is issued to affected individuals confirming that their records have been expunged.8 For the court’s own records, to be able to validate that expungement has taken place, they are also required to keep a ‘special index’ of expunged cases, as well as copies of the certificates sent to affected individuals.9 There is, however, no parallel requirement for this in other jurisdictions operating expungement procedures, like Massachusetts. There remain questions over whether continued record keeping of this nature is procedurally necessary, and whether it is still liable to cause enduring stigma related to criminalisation. However, it is certainly important that affected individuals are notified (and fully informed) of the implications of their record being expunged.

On a practical level, the most important effect of expungement is allowing individuals to truthfully deny the existence of any offence, and the lifting of the practical barriers that individuals burdened with criminal records face. It may facilitate greater access to employment, for instance. However, on an individual level, it may also act as important personal recognition that an individual’s actions were not wrong, and to remove their branding as a criminal. In this sense, expungement is also an effective way to acknowledge the errors of previous repressive cannabis laws and provide some symbolic reparation.


Record sealing

Expungement is technically different from ‘record sealing’, a process whereby the criminal record isn’t deleted, but is hidden from the public record. Record sealing can offer some similar benefits as expungement: for example, Colorado legislation makes clear that an individual whose record has been sealed “may say that he or she "has not been criminally convicted””.10 Practically, however, sealed records remain in existence. Indeed, sealed records may still create problems; where judicial officials or police see that an individual has a sealed record, they may assume the worst for their past behaviour, or may come to negatively associate sealed records with past drug offences. Further, while searches of individual records will not reveal charges or convictions in most cases, they may be revealed by other searches, such as for security clearances. In Washington, despite the fact that an individual “may state that he or she has never been convicted of that crime”, record sealing legislation specifically maintains that “nothing in this section affects or prevents the use of an offender's prior conviction in a later criminal prosecution”.11

Nonetheless, ‘expungement’ and ‘record sealing’ are regularly conflated. Media coverage of schemes in California, for example, often refer to ‘expungement’ although they involve the sealing of records rather than their deletion.12 Similarly, Senate Bill 420 in Oregon is headed ‘Relating to expungement of marijuana-related convictions’, but specifically only requires the Court to “issue an order sealing the record of conviction and other official records in the case, including the records of arrest, citation or charge” (emphasis added).13 The effect of the order remains that an individual is “deemed not to have been previously convicted”, but records are explicitly sealed rather than destroyed. While special indexes may be kept by courts in expungement cases, as in Vermont, this does not amount to the retention of the entire record in the same way as record sealing does; indeed, in Vermont, the index may only detail “the name of the person convicted of the offense, his or her date of birth, the docket number, and the criminal offense that was the subject of the expungement”.14

Record sealing is, therefore, less optimal than expungement, but many states in the US exploring cannabis criminal record removal do not have expungement available within their legal systems, meaning record sealing is currently the best mechanism available.

Pardons

Record-sealing and expungement remain distinct from a ‘pardon’, a more limited measure that is present alongside record sealing measures in some US states. Generally, a pardon signifies formal forgiveness for a prior crime, but does not allow an individual to legitimately deny such a crime ever took place, as record sealing and expungement measures do.15 In Colorado, for instance, an executive order automatically pardoning nearly 3,000 individuals previously convicted of simple possession offences was issued in October 2020 — but crucially, the pardon leaves criminal records intact, merely referencing on the records that the individual offence in question has been pardoned.16

In Canada, ‘pardons’ are available for certain cannabis offences, and are variously referred to as ‘record suspensions’.17 Legislation requires that suspended records “shall be kept separate and apart from other criminal records” and that “no record of a conviction is to be disclosed to any person, nor is the existence of the record or the fact of the conviction to be disclosed to any person, without the prior approval of the Minister”.18 The requirement to keep a record ‘separate’ is, notably, less restrictive than sealing where the record is hidden from view, or expungement where it is deleted — though the process is not exactly a ‘pardon’ in the same sense as identified in Colorado. The Canadian government notes that suspended records would “not normally be disclosed in a background check, such as for employment, housing or a passport” (emphasis added).19 The Canadian record suspension/pardon “removes any disqualification or obligation to which the applicant is, by reason of the conviction, subject” except for certain listed legislative requirements, for example related to obtaining firearms in some instances.20

What to do with historic criminal records was clearly an afterthought in the Canadian regulatory process. Post-legalisation, new legislation (Bill C-93) was passed to provide easier access to the record suspension measures, but only after the tireless advocacy of civil society groups.21 The Bill sought to expedite and remove cost-barriers from the criminal records suspension process; however, it has been highly ineffective and very few affected persons have benefitted as a result. As of August 2020, one year after the Bill’s introduction, only 257 Canadians had received pardons for cannabis offences, considerably less than the 10,000 Canadians the government had estimated were eligible and barely touching the more than 500,000 Canadians who continue to live with criminal records for minor offences, and the stigma stemming from prior cannabis convictions.22,23 Bill C-93 has been heavily criticised by campaigners for not providing a fair and effective amnesty as it only provides for expedited pardons for a limited number of simple possession cases and retains restrictive applicant requirements (such as having to obtain supporting documents from local police forces or courts).24

All US states to legalise cannabis prior to November 2020, bar Maine and Alaska, operate procedures to allow for removal of criminal records for certain offences.25 Sales in Maine began in 2020, but (as of November 2020) no expungement Bill has yet been passed. Alaska, in contrast, has had a retail market for a number of years, but with no expungement or record sealing procedure. Despite pressure on both states to implement procedures, it is unclear whether this will happen.26 It is worth noting that record removal procedures are not dependent on legal regulation, and have also been implemented in jurisdictions where personal cannabis possession has simply been decriminalised.


Jurisdiction

Type of criminal record removal available

Automatic?

Canada

Pardons/record suspensions 27

No

Uruguay

None available at present 28

N/A

Alaska

None available at present 29

N/A

California 30

Record sealing

Yes

Colorado

Record sealing 31

Pardons 32

No

Yes

Illinois 33

Expungement 34

For certain offences 35

Maine

None available at present 36

N/A

Massachusetts 37

Expungement


No

Michigan

Record sealing 38

For certain offences 39

Nevada40

Record sealing

Pardons41

No

Yes

Oregon

Record sealing42


No

Vermont43

Expungement

Yes


Washington

Record sealing44

Pardons45


No

No



Table is as of November 2020. Ballot measures legalising cannabis passed in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota in November 2020 — with more set to follow in 2021 (including New York and New Mexico) and later. In Arizona, expungement was on the ballot paper (though it is not clear if this would be automatic); in Montana, non-automatic expungement was on the ballot paper; in New Jersey, certain record sealing processes already exist for cannabis offences, but it is unclear if they will be expanded; expungement was not referenced on the ballot paper in South Dakota. Where states intend to authorise expungement or record sealing, this will likely be dealt in initial legislation but, as of November 2020, full details are unclear.


prison


‘Automatic’ record removal

The process for criminal record removal can be initiated by the affected individual, or by the state apparatus. The most wide-reaching legislative measures require the state apparatus to identify and remove eligible criminal records within a certain timeframe — known as ‘automatic’ record removal. This is always preferable. When the onus is on individuals to apply to have their own records sealed, pardoned or expunged, fewer eligible people are likely to benefit. Court filing fees may apply, alongside other administrative requirements, creating barriers to application. In Canada, for example, Bill C-93 removed the $631 application fee that individuals were previously required to pay in order to have a record pardoned/suspended — recognising the calls of campaigners that this made the process more arduous for affected individuals, and may deter people from applying. However, individuals may still be required to pay to obtain certain key documents to complete their application from the courts or police, which are indirect prohibitive costs and still constitute a serious barrier to records being pardoned/suspended.46,47

Even if such documents were available free of charge, the administrative process of obtaining these documents may still be prohibitive and result in a highly reduced number of applications. People may also be “so traumatized from the system” that they do not want to put themselves through court processes to clear their names.48 Criminalisation is a trauma, and requiring affected individuals to make all the effort to clear their names seems disrespectful. The individuals most likely to be deterred are those from poorer backgrounds, meaning those from areas disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition are less likely to benefit from expungement provisions. As in Canada, record sealing has been heavily criticised in Colorado, where, of 10,000 potentially eligible individuals, Denver received only 176 applications in the first three months of 2019 — only 38 of whom were actually eligible.49

Jurisdictions should seek to remove all such administrative and cost barriers to ensure more equitable and comprehensive accessibility of criminal record removal processes. After a campaign for reform, Oregon introduced legislation to reduce administrative burdens, and remove court filing fees for record sealing, at the start of 2020.50 Automatic record removal, however, lifts these barriers entirely: requiring no action on the part of the affected individual, and instead placing the onus on law enforcement, the courts, justice department or relevant designated agency. Removing barriers completely is the most effective way to maximise the number of people benefitting, but such automatic record removal is also desirable from a symbolic standpoint; it is the state that has harmed these individuals, and it should therefore be the state that takes the first steps to redress these harms. Record removal should not rely on affected individuals to come forward and apply to the same courts that criminalised them. Similarly, affected individuals should be able to expect the expunging agency to contact them to confirm the records have been expunged, rather than having to reach out for confirmation themselves.

Automatic record removal is comparatively rare in jurisdictions to have already legalised cannabis. As well as Illinois, which operates automatic expungement for offences up to 30g possession for personal use, or with intent to deliver, Vermont has legislated an automatic expungement Bill, which requires the Criminal Division of the Superior Court to expunge all records by 1 January 2022.51 Automatic expungement in Illinois appears to have been one of the most successful US schemes, with 500,000 records expunged by early 2021 — far ahead of the 2025 deadline the state was set.52 The proposed MORE Act at a Federal level in the US (which would decriminalise and de-schedule cannabis, meaning cannabis would no longer be ‘illegal’ at a Federal level, and removing barriers to state-level legalisation) also foresees automatic expungement schemes. It would require each Federal district, within one year, to “conduct a comprehensive review and issue an order expunging each conviction...for a non-violent Federal cannabis offense”, as well as “any arrests associated with each expunged conviction or adjudication of juvenile delinquency”. The Act would require individuals to be notified, as well as providing them with a right to petition the courts for expungement (presumably, in case they are missed out by the automatic measures). Records relating to the conviction, however, are actually only required to be sealed rather than expunged, albeit they may only be made available by further order of the court.53

California has also initiated a relatively well-publicised automatic record sealing scheme. In California, Assembly Bill 1793 required the Department of Justice to review past cannabis convictions to determine all cases which were eligible for recall or dismissal of a sentence, dismissal and sealing, or redesignation, by 1 July 2020.54 This is clearly a positive measure, as the duty to seal individual records fell on the Department of Justice, rather than on affected individuals. However, Californian experiences also highlighted difficulties organising an automatic process, as the onus in this instance is on District Attorneys — who would have been prosecuting affected individuals previously — to remove criminal records. From a symbolic standpoint, this may be quite powerful, but from a conflict of interest standpoint it may be sub-optimal.

There are also inevitably capacity issues with such large-scale record sealing processes, which may hold the process up. In some areas of California, therefore, technological solutions have helped streamline the process of identifying eligible individuals. For instance, Yolo County was able to automatically seal 728 convictions with the assistance of a non-profit tech partner, Code for America. This programme was made available to District Attorneys across California, but owing to inconsistencies in data collection across courts and prosecutors' offices, there were issues with state-wide implementation.55 In February 2020, Los Angeles worked with Code for America to dismiss 66,000 cannabis convictions, meaning the non-profit helped seal 85,000 cannabis convictions across five counties in California.56 Such technological solutions will no doubt prove valuable as other jurisdictions with large catalogues of criminal records implement decriminalisation and legal regulation.

Conclusion

Despite being much-lauded, and highlighting innovative practice for other jurisdictions to learn from, the California scheme remains less-than-ideal as it only amounts to record sealing, rather than expungement. Likewise, automatic pardon schemes in Colorado57 and Nevada58 bring important benefits for a limited number of individuals, but ultimately are less beneficial than if the individuals in question had their records expunged entirely. States may be restricted in what they can offer; in Colorado, drafters acknowledged that pardons were more limited than record sealing or expungement, but were limited by the fact that expungement doesn’t exist within Colorado legal apparatus.59 Washington law similarly does not allow for court records to be expunged.60 Expungement is therefore the most desirable mechanism, but may not be possible within all legal systems. In such cases, legislators should seek to implement the strongest measures available to provide as many of the same practical benefits as possible, while preventing any records from being disclosed. In all cases, legislators should aim for record removal to be automatic, and for all eligible individuals to be notified of their record expungement and its implications; it should not be left up to affected individuals to redress the harms they experienced, action should instead be taken directly by the Department of Justice, or most appropriate state apparatus.

References

1. ACLU (2020) A Tale of Two Countries: Racially Targeted Arrests in the Era of Marijuana Reform. https://www.aclu.org/report/tale-two-countries-racially-targeted-arrests-era-marijuana-reform

2. Shiner et al (2018) The Colour of Injustice: ‘Race’, drugs and law enforcement in England and Wales, Stopwatch, LSE and Release. https://www.stop-watch.org/news-comment/story/the-colour-of-injustice

3. Massachusetts Government (2018) General Laws: c.276 § 100E https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/PartIV/TitleII/Chapter276/Section100E

4. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(c). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

5. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(c). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

6. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(d)(2). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

7. Massachusetts Government (2018) General Laws: c.276 § 100N. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/mass-general-laws-c276-ss-100n

8. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(c). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

9. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(f)(1). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

10. Denver Government (2019) Turn Over a New Leaf Program. https://www.denvergov.org/content/denvergov/en/denver-marijuana-information/DenverMarijuanaEquityandSocialJustice/TurnOverANewLeafProgram.html

11. Washington State Legislature (2019) Senate Bill 5605, s1(6)(a). https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5605&Chamber=Senate&Year=2019

12. California Legislative Information (2018) AB-1793 Cannabis Convictions: Resentencing. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1793.

13. 78th Oregon Legislative Assembly (2015) Senate Bill 364. https://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2015/SB364/; 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly (2019) Senate Bill 420. https://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2019/SB420/.

14. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(f)(1). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

15. See: Norcia, A. (2020) How to Expunge Your Record for Cannabis Crimes: Illinois, VICE 16th January. https://www.vice.com/en/article/7kzb7e/how-to-expunge-your-record-weed-illinois

16. Awad, A.M. (2020) Polis Issues New ‘Narrow’ Pardons For 2,732 Marijuana-Related Convictions, CPR News 1st October. https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/01/gov-polis-issues-new-narrow-pardons-for-2732-marijuana-related-convictions/

17. Public Safety Canada (2019) Bill C-93 – No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2019/06/bill-c-93--no-fee-expedited-pardons-for-simple-possession-of-cannabis.html

18. Statutes of Canada (2019) Chapter 20: Bill C-93, s6.1. https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-93/royal-assent

19. Public Safety Canada (2019) Bill C-93 – No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2019/06/bill-c-93--no-fee-expedited-pardons-for-simple-possession-of-cannabis.html

20. Statutes of Canada (2019) Chapter 20: Bill C-93, s3(2)(b). https://parl.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/bill/C-93/royal-assent

21, Transform Drug Policy Foundation (2019) Cannabis Legalisation in Canada — One Year On. https://transformdrugs.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/Canada-1-Year-on-Briefing-2019.pdf; See: the work of Cannabis Amnesty https://www.cannabisamnesty.ca

22. Harris, K. (2020) Just 257 pardons granted for pot possession in program's 1st year, CBC News 9th August. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cannabis-record-suspension-pardon-pot-1.5678144

23. McAleese, S. (2019) Canada’s new lacklustre law for cannabis amnesty, The Conversation 27th June. http://theconversation.com/canadas-new-lacklustre-law-for-cannabis-amnesty-119220

24. Cannabis Amnesty (2019) Statement on Bill C-93. https://www.cannabisamnesty.ca/statement_on_bill_c_93; Government of Canada (2019) Bill C-93 – No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2019/06/bill-c-93--no-fee-expedited-pardons-for-simple-possession-of-cannabis.html

25. Four new states successfully voted through non-medical cannabis ballots in November 2020, with some explicitly planning expungement procedures and the situation in other states remaining unclear. New York also moved to legalise cannabis in 2021, with more states likely to follow in the coming months and years.

26. See: Marijuana Policy Project (2019) Alaska lawmakers considering expungement bill, 8/3/19. https://www.mpp.org/states/alaska/.

27. Government of Canada (2019) What is a Cannabis Record Suspension?. https://www.canada.ca/en/parole-board/services/cannabis-record-suspensions/what-is-a-cannabis-record-suspension.html

28. While expungement was not addressed when cannabis was legalised, In Uruguay, possession of drugs for personal use was already decriminalised (or technically - never criminalised in the first place) meaning there were, in theory, less historic offences to remove: Jordan, E. (2018) Marijuana legalisation in Uruguay, Center for Public Impact. https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/case-study/marijuana-legalisation-in-uruguay/

29. Efforts are ongoing by civil society to encourage the state to pass an expungement bill: Marijuana Policy Project (2019) Alaska lawmakers considering expungement bill. https://www.mpp.org/states/alaska/

30. California Legislative Information (2018) AB-1793 Cannabis Convictions: Resentencing. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1793.

31. Colorado General Assembly (2017) HB17-1266: Seal Misdemeanor Marijuana Conviction Records. https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb17-1266

32. Government of Colorado (2020) Gov. Polis Grants Historic Pardons for Marijuana Convictions. https://www.colorado.gov/governor/news/3126-gov-polis-grants-historic-pardons-marijuana-convictions

33. Illinois Government (2019) Adult Use Cannabis Summary. https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/20242-Summary_of_HB_1438__The_Cannabis_Regulation_and_Tax_Act.pdf

34. Law enforcement are required to automatically expunge all eligible records that did not result in a conviction by specified dates. Governor will grant pardons authorising expungement for convictions for possession and manufacturer or possession with intent to deliver for up to 30g. For more than this, individuals and State’s Attorneys may file motions to Court for vacation (up to 500g).

35. See: Government of Illinois (2019) Adult Use Cannabis Summary. https://www2.illinois.gov/IISNews/20242-Summary_of_HB_1438__The_Cannabis_Regulation_and_Tax_Act.pdf; Norcia, A. (2020) How to Expunge Your Record for Cannabis Crimes: Illinois, VICE 16th January. https://www.vice.com/en/article/7kzb7e/how-to-expunge-your-record-weed-illinois

36. A bill was proposed which would have required ‘the Department of Public Safety to expunge, by July 1, 2020, all records relating to criminal convictions for conduct now authorised by the adult use of marijuana provisions. However, the bill has subsequently been declared ‘dead’: Maine Legislature (2019) Legislative Document No. 991 Resolve, To Expunge Criminal and Civil Records Related to Marijuana Activities Legalized by the Voters of Maine. https://legislature.maine.gov/legis/bills/bills_129th/billtexts/SP028101.asp; Maine Legislature (2019). Summary of LD 991. http://legislature.maine.gov/LawMakerWeb/summary.asp?ID=280072057

37. Massachusetts Government (2018) c.276 § 100K Expungement of record resulting from false identification, an offense no longer a crime at time of expungement, error or fraud. https://www.mass.gov/info-details/mass-general-laws-c276-ss-100k

38. House Bill 4982 allows for certain offences to be set aside. However, despite widely being reported as expungement, the Act provides for the “retention of certain nonpublic records”: Michigan Legislature (2019) House Bill 4982. http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2019-HB-4982

39. House Bill 4982 requires individuals to apply, but a separate House Bill 4980 aims to automate a record clearing process for certain misdemeanour offences more broadly in the longer term: Michigan Legislature (2019) House Bill 4980. http://legislature.mi.gov/doc.aspx?2019-HB-4980

40. Nevada Electronic Legislative Information System (2019) Assembly Bill No. 192. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/App/NELIS/REL/80th2019/Bill/6296/Text/

41. Government of Nevada (2020) Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners passes resolution pardoning those convicted of minor marijuana offenses. https://gov.nv.gov/News/Press/2020/Nevada_State_Board_of_Pardons_Commissioners_passes__resolution_pardoning_those_convicted_of_minor_marijuana_offenses/

42. 78th Oregon Legislative Assembly (2015) Senate Bill 364. https://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2015/SB364/; 80th Oregon Legislative Assembly (2019) Senate Bill 420. https://gov.oregonlive.com/bill/2019/SB420/.

43. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234. https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

44. Washington State Legislature (2019) Senate Bill 5605. https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5605&Chamber=Senate&Year=2019. Individuals may apply to the sentencing Court to vacate their conviction records for misdemeanour cannabis offences. Washington law does not allow court records to be expunged, however, so vacation will not amount to expungement: Seattle Municipal Court (Undated) Vacating a Conviction. https://www.seattle.gov/courts...;

45. Washington Governor (2019) Marijuana Justice Initiative. https://www.governor.wa.gov/marijuanajustice

46. Public Safety Canada (2019) Bill C-93 – No-fee, Expedited Pardons for Simple Possession of Cannabis. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-safety-canada/news/2019/06/bill-c-93--no-fee-expedited-pardons-for-simple-possession-of-cannabis.html

47. Cannabis Amnesty (2019) Statement on Bill C-93. https://www.cannabisamnesty.ca/statement_on_bill_c_93

48. Krishnan, M. (2019) A Notorious Ex-Cocaine Trafficker Is Helping Black People Sell Legal Weed, VICE 26th November. https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/wjwmk5/a-notorious-cocaine-trafficker-freeway-rickross-is-helping-black-people-sell-legal-weed.

49. Pampuro, A. (2019) Colorado Makes Slow Move to Erase Old Pot Convictions, Courthouse News Service 12/3/19. https://www.courthousenews.com/colorado-makes-slow-move-to-erase-old-pot-convictions/

50. ACLU Oregon (2019) Expunge and reduce Cannabis Criminal Records - SB 420 & SB 975. https://www.aclu-or.org/en/legislation/expunge-and-reduce-cannabis-criminal-records-sb-420-sb-975-2019

51. Vermont General Assembly (2020) Senate Bill 234, s31(b). https://legislature.vermont.gov/bill/status/2020/S.234

52. Massie, G. (2021) Illinois erases 500,000 low-level cannabis charges, Independent 2nd January. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/illinois-cannabis-drugs-charges-legalisation-b1781569.html

53. US Congress (2019-2020), H.R.3884 - MORE Act of 2020, Sec.10: Resentencing and Expungement. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/3884/text

54. California Legislative Information (2018) AB-1793 Cannabis Convictions: Resentencing. https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1793

55. Cowan, J (2019) Thousands of Californians Could Get Their Marijuana Convictions Cleared. But It’s Complicated, California Today 5th September. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/05/us/marijuana-proposition-64-code-for-america.html.

56. The Guardian, Staff and Agencies (2020) Los Angeles to dismiss 66,000 marijuana convictions, The Guardian 14th February. https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/feb/14/los-angeles-marijuana-convictions-dismissed

57. Government of Colorado (2020) Gov. Polis Grants Historic Pardons for Marijuana Convictions. https://www.colorado.gov/governor/news/3126-gov-polis-grants-historic-pardons-marijuana-convictions

58. Government of Nevada (2020) Nevada State Board of Pardons Commissioners passes resolution pardoning those convicted of minor marijuana offenses. https://gov.nv.gov/News/Press/2020/Nevada_State_Board_of_Pardons_Commissioners_passes__resolution_pardoning_those_convicted_of_minor_marijuana_offenses/

59. Awad, A.M. (2020) Polis Issues New ‘Narrow’ Pardons For 2,732 Marijuana-Related Convictions, CPR News 1st October. https://www.cpr.org/2020/10/01/gov-polis-issues-new-narrow-pardons-for-2732-marijuana-related-convictions/

60. See: Seattle Municipal Court (Undated). Vacating a Conviction. https://www.seattle.gov/courts/programs-and-services/vacating-a-conviction.