Minnesota Close to Passing Marijuana Legalization and Expungements

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Minnesota Close to Passing Marijuana Legalization and Expungements+
May 15, 2023

Minnesota could soon become the 23rd state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. However, the state must wait to see if the House and Senate can reconcile different bill versions to legalize marijuana. Should the legislators agree on a bill, it will go to the state’s governor, who has already expressed his support.

One of the key components of this bill is how it would impact those with criminal records related to marijuana. The Minnesota legislature has included numerous proposals to help those affected by marijuana-related criminal records. For example, both bills passed by the legislatures have called for automatic expungements of marijuana possession charges. It also includes other non-violent, cannabis-related misdemeanors that did not involve weapons.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) estimates that approximately 66,000 residents qualify for expungement under the current law. These expungements will happen automatically. As such, eligible individuals would not have to take any action to have their records sealed. However, it could take a while to expunge these records.

Unfortunately, Minnesota has struggled to settle on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana because it must also address the expungement progress. Currently, the covered convictions and other records must undergo review by the BCA. The BCA initiates the sealing process by contacting the courts.

Of the estimated 66,000 Minnesotans eligible for record sealing, only 9,800 ended in a conviction. The other cases were stayed or dismissed; though they may seem less serious, they can seriously affect an individual’s life. Though the charges against an individual may never be proven, even an arrest will stay on their record and appear when they attempt to acquire employment or housing.

Because these agencies access this information, they must know when a record has received expungement. Furthermore, anyone whose records qualify for automatic expungement must receive notification of the sealed data. This requirement allowed them to claim that the offense does not exist on applications. Unfortunately, locating an individual to inform them of the success has proven complicated.

The BCA must also address other complications as the eligibility for sealing non-violent felonies increases. For example, the BCA expects an additional 230,000 Minnesotans will have the chance to apply with a Cannabis Expungement Board. These expungements may take years to process fully. However, they may greatly expand the possible labor pool for many employers.

With changes like these on the way in Minnesota and other states introducing similar policies, employers should review their hiring policies to ensure compliance. A critical step employers can take is to work with a trustworthy background check company. The right provider will have updated databases, allowing them to avoid sealed records.

Pre-employ makes background checks easy and reliable. Speak with a compliance expert today.