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More Than 57,000 Marijuana Records Have Been Automatically Expunged Under Minnesota’s Legalization Law, Officials Announce



Minnesota officials have expunged more than 57,000 records for marijuana convictions under the state’s legalization law, the Department of Public Safety Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) announced on Monday.

The automatic record sealing process that the law requires was completed three months ahead of schedule. Of the cases that were reviewed, 57,780 were expunged. The Minnesota Judicial Branch only identified 213 records that it determined were ineligible for relief.

“We are pleased to be able to deliver on this legislative priority,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in a press release. “Minnesotans will see changes to their records immediately and as additional expungements are made in the months and years ahead.”

Now that the records have been sealed on the state’s Criminal History System (CHS), officials will now compile lists of expunged cases and distribute them to local law enforcement agencies so they can be removed from their individual systems as well.

An independent Cannabis Expungement Board will also review records for felony cannabis convictions that didn’t qualify for automatic sealing and determine on an individual basis whether they’re eligible for resentencing or expungement. That process could take “several years,” the Department of Public Safety said.

An initial analysis showed that more than 66,000 criminal records were eligible for automatic expungement under the Adult-Use Cannabis Act, while another 230,000 felony records are eligible for review by the Cannabis Expungement Board.

“The Cannabis Expungement Board is tasked with the thoughtful and careful review of cannabis-related felonies and we are quickly moving forward to build a team to accomplish the work,” Cannabis Expungements Board Executive Director James Rowader said.

“It is very encouraging to see that misdemeanor cannabis criminal records are moving toward expungement now,” he said. “These actions together will have a lasting and significant equity impact on communities throughout the state of Minnesota.”

BCA will also conduct another review of marijuana records in 2025 to see if any cases that were still going through the court process this year should be automatically sealed.

Under the cannabis legislation that Gov. Tim Walz (D) signed into law last year, the bureau will also need to submit a report to legislative committees with “summary data” and “the total number” of cases that were cleared.

Additional criminal records will be expunged under the Clean Slate Act, a separate law passed last year that will automatically expunge records for non-violent, non-felony crimes beginning in January 2025.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate recently approved a bill to make a series of changes to the marijuana law, including strengthening social equity provisions and revising the licensing process. That measure is currently in a bicameral conference committee after the House refused to accept certain Senate amendments.

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Photo courtesy of Philip Steffan.

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