The state legislature’s Cannabis Oversight Commission made the announcement during a Thursday meeting.
333,886 simple marijuana possession conviction records were previously sealed after the state enacted a measure in 2020 to decriminalize low-level marijuana possession offenses.
Earlier this year, lawmakers enacted House Bill 2113, to establish a process for the automatic expungement of past criminal records for certain marijuana convictions. Expungement (larger sealing in court, local law enforcement, and private databases) of these offenses will occur after the courts implement needed software updates.
“These initial record sealings by Virginia State Police are a small step toward righting the wrongs of cannabis prohibition,” said NORML Development Director, JM Pedini, who also serves as Virginia NORML Executive Director. There remains much work to be done to permanently remove these stains from Virginians’ records, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts in the 2022 General Assembly to help expedite that process.”
Virginia is one of several states in recent months to automatically review and vacate marijuana-specific criminal records. In Illinois, officials have moved to expunge an estimated 500,000 marijuana-related records. California officials have cleared nearly 200,000 records, and New Jersey courts have expunged over 362,000 records.
In several other states – including Colorado, Nevada, and Washington – public officials granted pardons to tens of thousands of citizens with cannabis convictions.
More than a dozen states that have enacted legislation explicitly permitting or facilitating the process of having past marijuana convictions expunged, vacated, otherwise set aside, or sealed from public view.