Minnesota Begins Clearing Cannabis-Related Convictions

Minnesota Begins Clearing Cannabis-Related Convictions
June 21, 2023

One of Minnesota’s law enforcement agencies has issued a notice concerning marijuana convictions. This notice explained how the state would expunge marijuana convictions since the state legalized marijuana use. As such, it described how the process would seal eligible records. The agencies also commented that the state has already begun the expungement process.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also released a new notice. It stated, “Some Minnesotans will soon have certain criminal records expunged thanks to a pair of laws passed by the Minnesota Legislature: the Adult-Use Cannabis Act and the Clean Slate Act.” The BCA maintains a database containing records provided by law enforcement, courts, and corrections agencies within the state. The public can view these records through the BCA’s Criminal History System (CHS) website.

The Adult-Use Cannabis Act goes into effect on August 1, 2023. According to it, the BCA must identify and automatically expunge certain cannabis-related records. In addition, courts and local agencies must follow up on the BCA’s progress. The law also established a Cannabis Expungement Board for serious felony-level offenses. This Board would review these records and determine whether they qualify for expungement.

The BCA estimated that 66,000 cannabis-related records would qualify for automatic expungement. In addition, it revealed that 230,000 more records could qualify for review by the Expungement Review Board at the Minnesota Department of Corrections.

Minnesota’s agencies have continued working to allow these expungements to happen. Until they establish a working process, interested individuals will not see their records removed from the BCA database immediately. According to the BCA, it must continue making technical and programmatic changes to its database. 

These changes would allow it to eliminate these records from public view, which the agency expects to accomplish sometime around August 2024. Once the agencies can carry out the automatic expungements, the BCA must begin submitting reports to the legislature. These reports would detail summary data and the number of cleared cases.

These changes will benefit many Minnesotans by offering new employment and housing opportunities. While the agencies and courts continue working on expunging records under the new state law, employers should also consider taking action. For example, they should review hiring and other employment policies concerning marijuana-related offenses. The best way to get started is to work with an experienced screening provider that can help with second-chance hiring policies.

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