BCA finishes expunging low-level marijuana convictions

A little more than nine months after Minnesota’s law legalizing marijuana took effect, state officials have finished expunging low-level marijuana convictions for thousands of residents.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) shared the update on Monday, saying all criminal records that qualified for automatic expungement under the Adult-Use Cannabis Act are no longer visible on the BCA’s system. Local agencies will now have to do the same.

The BCA says it sealed 57,780 records as part of the process, which was expected to take around a year but finished a couple of months ahead of schedule. The Minnesota Judicial Branch determined that 213 other records shouldn’t be expunged.

“We are pleased to be able to deliver on this legislative priority,” BCA Superintendent Drew Evans said in a prepared statement. “Minnesotans will see changes to their records immediately and as additional expungements are made in the months and years ahead.”

Aside from local agencies doing the same, the next step will be for the state’s Cannabis Expungement Board to start reviewing felony-level records that qualify for potential resentencing or expungement. However, those records are determined on a case-by-case basis and could take years to get through.

“The Cannabis Expungement Board is tasked with the thoughtful and careful review of cannabis-related felonies and we are quickly moving forward to build a team to accomplish the work,” Cannabis Expungements Board Executive Director James Rowader said. “It is very encouraging to see that misdemeanor cannabis criminal records are moving toward expungement now. These actions together will have a lasting and significant equity impact on communities throughout the state of Minnesota.”

There are also records that currently require a court order to expunge that will become eligible for automatic expungement on Jan. 1, 2025, when the Clean Slate Act takes effect. The BCA says it is already working on those records, so it’s prepared for that law to take effect.

For more information on the expungement process, click here.