New Mexico Takes Action to Accelerate Automatic Cannabis Expungements

New Mexico Takes Action to Accelerate Automatic Cannabis Expungements
May 31, 2023

In June 2021, New Mexico passed House Bill 314 into law. This bill takes advantage of the state legalizing recreational marijuana, which decriminalized marijuana. It allows individuals to expunge records involving low-level marijuana convictions. Under this law, thousands of New Mexicans became eligible for automatic expungement of marijuana possession records from the court and law enforcement records.

However, this process has proven difficult for authorities to process. As a result, many eligible individuals have yet to clear their records. This struggle has significantly impacted many New Mexicans’ ability to seek gainful employment and housing due to cannabis possession offenses. Under a bill passed this year, authorities intend to accelerate clearing the remaining records.

However, the original legislation set out specific records to automatically expunge. This legislation required authorities to review individual cases, including those with multiple charges. For example, they had to sort through charges like traffic violations or violent crimes eligible for marijuana-related offenses. After sorting through these cases, the authorities must determine which records qualify under this law.

This process made expungement cumbersome for authorities holding up the clearing of records. As a result, this year’s bill limited the eligibility for automatic expungements. This change limited eligibility to simple cases that have eligible cannabis charges only. Individuals with “mixed” cases must petition a court to expunge qualifying records.

As of mid-April, the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) has processed expungement for approximately 14,500 simple cannabis cases. Over the previous six months, the Department of Public Safety also expunged more than 14,200. However, many of these records may overlap. These numbers also do not account for other law enforcement agencies that may need to erase eligible records.

According to the AOC, they expect approximately 90,000 cases that still require manual review for automatic expungement eligibility. This review allows the AOC to determine whether the records concern marijuana possession and not another controlled substance. The AOC estimates that this process could take another four to five years. It will also provide a webpage in June 2023 for public petitions for expungement. This website would benefit individuals with mixed cases seeking to expunge their eligible records.

Anyone with eligible records can check the state’s case search tool to see if the courts expunged their information. However, this tool cannot guarantee that employers will not see it in other databases. A convenient way to ensure your expunged records do not appear is to perform a self-background check. Running a self-check would let you dispute any inaccuracies or obsolete information.

Discover more about our reliable and secure self-background checks by clicking here. Get started today.