Ohio: Governor Signs Sentencing Reform Legislation Into Law

Marijuana Expungement Laws

Republican Gov. Mike DeWine has signed comprehensive sentencing reform legislation, Senate Bill 288, into law.

Marijuana-specific provisions in the bill amend state law so that that the arrest or conviction for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia no longer qualifies as part of a person’s criminal record and doesn’t need to be disclosed “in response to any inquiries about the person’s criminal record.” Other provisions in the bill provide pathways so that those with misdemeanor marijuana convictions can petition the courts to have their records sealed within one year. The legislation also amends state law so that, for the first time, county/local prosecutors can apply for expungements on citizens’ behalf to vacate minor misdemeanor drug offenses.

The new law takes effect in 90 days.

“The adoption of this law will make it so that tens of thousands of Ohioans are no longer stigmatized and disenfranchised by the collateral consequences resulting from a minor marijuana violation,” said Jax James, NORML’s State Policy Manager. “People should not have their lives derailed for behaviors that most Americans no longer even believe ought to be a crime.”

According to a newly released NORML Report, Marijuana Pardons and Expungements: By the Numbers, 24 states have now enacted laws providing explicit pathways to either expunge (or otherwise set aside) the records of those with low-level marijuana convictions. As a result of these laws, NORML estimates that state and local officials have issued over 100,000 pardons and more than 1.7 million marijuana-related expungements since 2018.