Missouri’s Marijuana Expungements May Miss the Deadline

Missouri’s Marijuana Expungements May Miss the Deadline
June 6, 2023

In November 2022, Missouri passed Amendment 3, which addressed all marijuana-related charges involving three pounds or less of marijuana. This Amendment required the expungement of misdemeanors and felonies involving these charges. In addition, this Amendment imposed a deadline of June 8, 2023, to expunge all eligible misdemeanor records. As for felonies, the state must seal these records by December 8, 2023.

Amendment 3 legalized marijuana, making it possible to expunge many marijuana-related offenses. It also made the expungements automatic. Automating the process means eligible individuals do not have to petition the court to expunge these charges. Though some have seen these records expunged, many with qualifying history may not see their information erased before Missouri’s promised date. 

County employees must manually sort through every case file to expunge these records to find eligible charges. Once they find a case to expunge, they must ensure all records of the charge reflect that the court has expunged it. Unfortunately, it can take hours for even one case.

This struggle is because old files only exist on paper, making identifying and completing the process difficult. However, courts have stored digital copies of newer files, making finding and expunging them faster. So far, the state has already erased 31,000 charges. According to officials, they will continue sealing files beyond the deadline to ensure all eligible individuals benefit from the law. The state court authorities have asked the legislature for an additional $2.5 million in the supplemental budget to pay for overtime to complete this work.

This delay in record sealing can prove challenging, especially when so many people have limited job and housing opportunities due to these charges. While waiting for the courts to finish expunging all records, check if your area has ban-the-box laws. For example, Missouri has a ban-the-box law. Missouri’s law covers public employees in the executive branch. It also prohibits questions about criminal history on job applications for these positions.

However, Columbia and Kansas City have ban-the-box-laws that could help your job search. Furthermore, Columbia’s law applies to employers within city limits. It also bans questions about criminal history until the employer offers a conditional job offer. Kansas City’s law applies to employers with six or more workers and prohibits criminal background questions until after an interview.

Checking for ban-the-box laws is an excellent first step. You could also improve your chances of getting a job by running a self-background check. A self-check lets you review what employers will learn about you. Checking this information allows you to correct errors and decide how to explain negative information.

Click here to run a self-background check to prepare for your next job interview.