More than 44,000 marijuana cases, including over 10,000 marijuana-related felony convictions, have been expunged in recent months under the provisions of Article XIV of the Missouri Constitution. Those provisions, which were included in the state’s citizens-initiated adult-use marijuana law, require courts to expunge all eligible misdemeanor marijuana convictions by Thursday, June 8th.
Several counties including Audrain, Clay, Cooper, Carter, Greene, Laclede, McDonald, Pettis, Phelps, Saline, St. Charles, Scott, and St. Francois have each expunged at least 1,000 cases. Buchanan county leads the state with more than 2,000 cases expunged.
At the other end of the spectrum, many other counties have made little or no effort to comply with Article XIV. Callaway County has expunged only two cases. Crawford County has expunged only a single conviction. Gasconade has expunged ten cases. Maries County has expunged just four cases. Randolph has expunged only three cases. Ralls County and Shelby County have expunged five cases each. Gentry, Holt, Knox, Mercer and Putnam Counties have not expunged a single eligible case.
Missouri NORML Coordinator Dan Viets, who co-authored Article XIV, said that advocates may engage in litigation to compel greater compliance with the law. “It is clear that many counties have made no serious effort to comply with the requirements of the Missouri Constitution,” he said. “It should not be necessary to seek a court order in order to force our courts to comply with the Missouri Constitution, but if that is what is required, we may pursue that option. There is no reason why these counties should be dragging their feet and failing to comply with the law as passed by the voters of our state.”
Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws providing explicit pathways to either expunge (or otherwise set aside) the records of those with low-level marijuana convictions. Cannabis expungement legislation is currently pending approval in Louisiana from the Governor. According to publicly available data compiled by NORML, state and local officials have issued over 100,000 pardons and more than 1.7 million marijuana-related expungements since 2018.
The full text of NORML’s report, Marijuana Pardons and Expungements: By the Numbers, is available online. Additional information is available from Missouri NORML. Dan Viets may be contacted directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at: (573) 819 2669.