PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Judiciary has made significant progress over the past few months in scrubbing the records of those who were previously convicted of marijuana possession.
So far, more than 23,000 cases have been expunged, including 3,015 in Superior Court, 10,650 in District Court and 9,952 in the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal.
The expungements come more than a year after Gov. Dan McKee signed The Rhode Island Cannabis Act into law, making it legal for adults over the age of 21 to possess, grow and purchase recreational marijuana.
Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Paul Suttell outlined the process back in January, which calls for the automatic expungement of all past criminal convictions of marijuana possession for those 18 and older, as well as civil violations for those over the age of 21.
The expungement process does not apply to marijuana convictions pertaining to selling, delivering or manufacturing the plant.
“The automatic expungement of marijuana charges has been an organizational feat,” State Court Administrator Julie Hamil said. “There has been coordination at every level of the judiciary to execute this process in a timely and holistic fashion.”
The first phase of the expungement process, during which all eligible singular marijuana possession charges were wiped from court records, was completed prior to the April 30 deadline.
“The Rhode Island Judiciary has executed the auto-expungement of marijuana charges in a near seamless manner and so many Rhode Islanders are grateful for its expediency,” Center for Health and Justice Transformation Mavis Nimoh said. “Common sense policy on criminal record relief is desperately needed as the state enters into a burgeoning economy that for far too long has penalized its citizens.”
The second phase of the expungement process will examine cases where marijuana possession was one of numerous charges or counts.
The courts are on track to complete the expungement process by July 1, according to the Rhode Island Judiciary.