April 4, 2024

A series of bills concerning old marijuana convictions recently reached Maine legislators. These proposals intend to address the record-sealing process for marijuana convictions, as marijuana is legal in the state. According to the bills, they would expand the list of qualifying convictions, possibly creating an automatic sealing process.

In 2017, Maine legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Despite this, convictions for possessing or using marijuana before legalization have remained on individuals’ records. These remaining records created significant hardships for those seeking employment or housing. 

Advocates for decriminalizing marijuana also argued that minorities such as Black and Hispanic individuals faced disproportionate impacts from these records. According to advocates, law enforcement often targeted minority communities under previous drug laws. This issue further spurred the Maine legislature to receive several proposals to seal these records from the public.

One proposal is LD 2269. It would address marijuana-related convictions from January 1, 2001, through January 30, 2017. LD 2269 would automatically seal or mark these records as confidential. The bill would include convictions for possessing marijuana and several related crimes. Furthermore, LD 2269 would task the Department of Public Safety, the Bureau of State Police, and the State Bureau of Investigation with monthly reviews. 

They must search their databases for underlying convictions qualifying for automatic sealing. They must transfer information on qualifying records to the Administrative Office of the Courts. This office would then send all relevant information to the Superior or District Court as appropriate. The court will then determine the convictions’ eligibility for automatic sealing. 

The court will notify the State Bureau of Identification for offenses that do not qualify. The State Bureau of Identification must file the notice alongside the criminal record. If an offense qualifies, the court will inform the State Bureau of Identification to keep the records confidential.

Another bill submitted to Maine’s legislature is LD 2236. This bill would update the definition of “eligible criminal conviction.” According to LD 2236, the definition would include any Class D crime related to the unlawful possession or cultivation of marijuana before January 30, 2017. The bill would allow affected individuals to file a post-judgment motion to seal their eligible criminal history.

Another bill under consideration is LD 2218. It would eliminate age limitations for those seeking to seal their offenses. Currently, post-judgment motions could apply only to individuals between 18 and 28 years old at the time of the crime. As such, LD 2218 intends to eliminate this statutory prerequisite.


Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.