Missouri voters to weigh forgiveness for past weed crimes

Aug 17, 2022, 11:15 AM | Updated: 11:49 am
FILE - Marijuana plants for the adult recreational market are are seen in a greenhouse at Hepworth ...

FILE - Marijuana plants for the adult recreational market are are seen in a greenhouse at Hepworth Farms in Milton, N.Y., Friday, July 15, 2022. Missouri voters are set to be the first in the nation to sign off on automatically forgiving past marijuana crimes if they approve a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational pot in November 2022. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri could become the first state to pass a voter-led effort to require courts to automatically forgive past marijuana crimes as part of a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational pot on November’s ballot.

Of the 19 states where recreational marijuana is legal, only seven states require some sort of judicial forgiveness for those punished for committing crimes that have since been decriminalized, according to the advocacy group National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

It was lawmakers in California, Connecticut, Vermont, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island who took action to provide amnesty for past marijuana crimes.

Missouri voters would be the first to spearhead what’s called automatic expungement on their own, said John Payne, the campaign manager for the push to legalize recreational marijuana.

Payne said the goal is to allow people with pot-related convictions to “reclaim their lives.”

“This is going to allow those people to live more full and complete lives,” he said. “That also helps society at large, because they’re essentially being somewhat locked out of the economy and productive lives by that burden. We’re going to remove that for them.”

Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature for years resisted addressing marijuana policies, prompting voters to lead a successful effort in 2018 to amend the state constitution to allow medical marijuana.

Thanks to another advocate-led ballot initiative, Missouri voters in November will decide whether to allow those age 21 and older to buy and grow weed for personal consumption and whether to grant automatic expungement to past marijuana-related crimes.

Recreational legalization proposals are also on the ballot this fall in South Dakota and Maryland. The Maryland measure would similarly require automatic expungements, although that proposal was referred to the ballot by state lawmakers.

The Missouri proposal would erase past marijuana-related convictions for nonviolent offenders and those whose convictions didn’t include selling to minors or driving while high.

Under current Missouri law, it’s up to past offenders to request a clean slate. Missouri lawmakers in 2016 passed legislation that allowed people to apply to expunge two misdemeanor or ordinance violations that carry jail time and one felony. Certain felonies, such as sex offenses and dangerous felonies, are not eligible for expungement.

Leslie Corbett, executive director of the low-income legal aid group Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, said she’s concerned an Illinois law that’s described as automatic expungement but requires past offenders to take action has been underused because it’s confusing.

Corbett said the law, which has been described by supporters as automatic expungement because police records are immediately wiped, requires the majority of past offenders to request to also have their court records cleared.

“Folks don’t realize that they still need to take action, even if it was auto-expunged,” she said.

In most cases, Payne said the Missouri amendment puts the responsibility on courts, not past offenders, to wipe records, although prisoners would need to petition courts for early release on marijuana charges.

The amendment gives courts six months to expunge past misdemeanors and a year for eligible felonies.

Marijuana sales would be taxed at 6% under the Missouri amendment, which the state Auditor’s Office estimated would bring in at least $41 million a year. Funding is earmarked to pay for oversight, administration and the expungement process. Remaining funds would go to veterans’ homes, public defenders and drug addiction treatment services.

Municipalities could tax marijuana sales at an additional 3%, or as much as $14 million a year.

Cost estimates compiled by the Missouri state auditor do not include expenses for administrative court costs related to clearing past marijuana convictions.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Kevin Spacey faces civil trial on sexual assault claims

NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Spacey heads to court Thursday to defend himself in a lawsuit filed by Anthony Rapp, the actor who in 2017 made the first in a string of sexual misconduct allegations that left the “House of Cards” star’s theater and filmmaking career in tatters. The trial, expected to last less than […]
22 hours ago
Infowars founder Alex Jones appears in court to testify during the Sandy Hook defamation damages tr...
Associated Press

Closing arguments set in Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook trial

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut jury is expected to hear closing arguments Thursday in a trial to determine how much Infowars host Alex Jones should pay for persuading his audience that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax perpetrated to impose more gun control laws. The six-person jury could begin […]
22 hours ago
A worker wearing a protective suit administers a COVID-19 test at a coronavirus testing site in Bei...
Associated Press

China’s vast Xinjiang hit with COVID-19 travel restrictions

BEIJING (AP) — Sprawling Xinjiang is the latest Chinese region to be hit with sweeping COVID-19 travel restrictions, as China further ratchets up control measures ahead of a key Communist Party congress later this month. Trains and buses in and out of the region of 22 million people have been suspended, and passenger numbers on […]
22 hours ago
Electronic signage at an Optus telecommunications retail store is seen at the central business dist...
Associated Press

Australia updates law to protect data after Optus hack

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — The Australian government announced changes Thursday to its telecommunications law to protect vulnerable customers after personal details were stolen in a major cyberattack on the nation’s second-largest wireless carrier. The changes to Telecommunications Regulations allow Optus and other providers to better coordinate with financial institutions and governments to detect and mitigate […]
22 hours ago
FILE - The recently closed Savannah Medical Clinic, which provided abortions for four decades in Sa...
Associated Press

At least 66 US clinics have halted abortions, institute says

At least 66 clinics in 15 states have stopped providing abortions since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to an analysis released Thursday. The number of clinics providing abortions in the 15 states dropped from 79 before the June 24 decision to 13 as of Oct. 2, according to the Guttmacher Institute, […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: October 6, the launch of Instagram

Today in History Today is Thursday, Oct. 6, the 279th day of 2022. There are 86 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Oct. 6, 1973, war erupted in the Middle East as Egypt and Syria launched a surprise attack on Israel during the Yom Kippur holiday. (Israel, initially caught off guard, […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
...
Dr. Richard Carmona

Great news: Children under 5 can now get COVID-19 vaccine

After more than two years of battle with an invisible killer, we can now vaccinate the youngest among us against COVID-19. This is great news.
Missouri voters to weigh forgiveness for past weed crimes