Final Deadline Passed for Missouri Marijuana Expungements

January 03, 2024

December 8, 2023, marked the final deadline for Missouri’s county courts to finish expunging non-violent felony marijuana cases. This day also marked the first anniversary of recreational marijuana becoming legal in Missouri. Unfortunately, some counties failed to meet the deadline for expunging all qualifying felony cases. Some are also working on misdemeanor cases too.

Missouri voters passed Proposition 3 over a year ago. In addition to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, this proposition required the automatic expungement of most non-violent marijuana-related offenses from people’s records. These expungements included deadlines spread through 2023 for completing these expungements.

Proposition 3 included two specific deadlines: one for misdemeanor cases and one for felony cases. The proposition required the courts to expunge all qualifying misdemeanor offense cases by June 8, 2023. It required the same action for qualifying felony cases by the second deadline, December 8, 2023.

Long before the first deadline arrived, it became clear that the state could not meet the misdemeanor deadline. In June, Missouri officials estimated that they had expunged roughly 43,000 cases. Since then, Missouri courts have completed approximately 50,000 more. Many suspected that the courts could not meet the deadline of December 8, 2023. This result became apparent as the December 8 deadline passed, and the courts still have many cases to address.

Some counties have completed their expungements entirely. However, others continued working through the enormous backlog Proposition 3 created into the new year. According to court clerks, not all cases are in digital records. Failing to computerize older cases has significantly delayed the expungement process. 

Despite the struggle, the law requires the courts to expunge all eligible felony cases. As such, the clerks must sort through all physical records. Sorting the paperwork has proven challenging due to their locations. The court clerks commented that some were in warehouses and others in attics.

Counties having difficulties expunging cases can use money from the 6% sales tax in the area to help pay for the efforts. Furthermore, they can use these funds to afford additional staff or overtime needed to complete the expungements. The courts have assured concerned parties that they are progressing and will finish the expungements.

Until then, employers can help by considering if an offense is related to the open position. The best way to start a second chance program is to partner with a background check company experienced in this area.

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