May 9, 2024

Maine’s Governor Janet Mills recently signed legislation into law that provides a pathway for sealing criminal records related to marijuana. This new law is An Act to Expand the List of Crimes Eligible for a Post-judgment Motion to Seal Criminal History Record Information to Include Convictions for Possession and Cultivation of Marijuana (LD 2236).

What It Does

According to LD 2236, it would allow those with qualifying records to petition a court to seal them. This decision makes Maine the 25th state to provide expungements or record-sealing options for marijuana-related convictions. According to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), over two million cases have undergone expungement or seals under similar laws. Deputy Director Paul Armentano shared NORML’s approval of the law in the following statement:

“Millions of Americans unduly carry the burden and stigma of a past conviction for behavior that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider to be a crime. Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”

Support for LD 2236

LD 2236 received strong support from Maine legislators. It received overwhelmingly favorable votes of 27-8 in the state Senate and 90-57 in Maine’s House. Now that Governor Mills has signed the bill into law, it will amend the state’s definition of an “eligible criminal conviction” for record sealing.

The new regulations updated the list of offenses eligible for record sealing. As such, it now includes those based on prior statutes and current legal status. For marijuana-related offenses, this means crimes committed before the legalization of marijuana in 2017 qualify for expungement.

LD 2236 follows up on recent legislation from other states, such as California and New York. In contrast to these states, it will require individuals to petition for relief. The courts in other states review their own records and issue expungements to those qualified for expungements or sealing. However, Maine’s law requires eligible individuals to submit a petition for a post-judgment motion to seal their records.

Concerns for LD 2236

Despite the legislature quickly passing the bill, it did receive objections due to its fiscal note. Those who disapproved commented on the bill’s automatic sealing details. They claimed it would take significant time and resources. One representative worried that having individuals appeal to the judge is disadvantageous to those financially struggling.

Some legislators had previously attempted to pass legislation to create a state-initiated system. However, this failed to achieve passage, in large part due to concerns about the cost. Despite this failure, many support the initiative to expunge and seal minor marijuana-related convictions.


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.