Local officials have dismissed hundreds of pending marijuana-related criminal cases following voters’ decision in November to pass Amendment 3, which regulates the adult-use cannabis market.
According to statement on Twitter by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, municipal court officials have “dismissed over 500” open marijuana cases in the days since the new law took effect. The law legalizes the possession of cannabis by adults, and it also calls on state and local officials to expunge the records of those Missourians with misdemeanor marijuana convictions. Officials have a six-month timeline with which to review and expunge criminal records.
According to a new report issued by NORML earlier this week, state and local officials nationwide have issued over 100,000 pardons and more than 1.7 million marijuana-related expungements since 2018.
NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano emphasized the importance of creating pathways to expunge past criminal convictions, stating: “Hundreds of thousands of Americans unduly carry the burden and stigma of a past conviction for behavior that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
Kansas City officials enacted a local law depenalizing marijuana possession in 2020. Since that time, court officials have dismissed over 2,400 cannabis-related cases. City officials report that there are no longer any open cases specific to marijuana possession pending before the Municipal Court.
Over 100 municipalities have similarly taken steps in recent years to either significantly reduce or eliminate local penalties for marijuana-related violations, according to data compiled by NORML. As a result, today, even in jurisdictions where cannabis remains criminalized under state law, tens of millions of Americans reside in cities and counties where local laws either depenalizing or decriminalizing cannabis-related activities are in effect.
The full text of NORML’s report, ‘Marijuana Pardons and Expungements: By the Numbers,’ is online. Read NORML’s Local Decriminalization/Depenalization Report here.