Montana: Officials Create New Drug Court to Focus Solely on Expunging Past Marijuana Convictions

Marijuana Law Reform

State officials are set to debut a special drug court that will be dedicated solely to reviewing and expunging past marijuana convictions.

Under the state’s new adult-use legalization law, those with past marijuana convictions may petition for either the expungement of their records or for a re-sentencing of their convictions. Officials believe that having a court dedicated solely to reviewing these petitions will expedite the expungement process. The new court is expected to be operational by early next year.

Montana is one of more than a dozen states that explicitly permit those with marijuana-related crimes to have their records either sealed or expunged. In recent months, officials in various states — including California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia — have moved to seal the records of over 2 million people with prior cannabis-related convictions.

Nearly 60 percent of Montana voters on Election Day decided in favor of ballot measures legalizing the personal use and retail sale of cannabis. Provisions in the law allowing those ages 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and/or to privately cultivate up to four mature cannabis plants for personal use took effect on January 1, 2021. The retail sale of marijuana products to adults is set to begin on January 1, 2022.