Marijuana legalization and expungement in early 2021


By Collateral Consequences Resource Center and Drug Enforcement and Policy Center Staff  |  Spring 2021

Marijuana Legalization and expungement in early 2021

Digging into the groundbreaking criminal reforms enacted this year as part of marijuana legalization

Early 2021 was an unprecedented period for policymaking at the intersection of marijuana legalization and criminal record reform. Between February and April, four states enacted legislation legalizing recreational marijuana. In conjunction with legalization, these states (New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Virginia) also enacted innovative criminal policy reforms—including the automatic expungement of an exceptionally broad array of past marijuana convictions—along with a variety of social equity provisions.

These new laws mitigate past harms of the legal system while also supporting economic and social opportunity for people with a record in several ways. First, in all four states, expansive automatic expungement provisions will remove the burden of a criminal record from many individuals, while raising the bar on standards for marijuana record relief nationwide. These states also incorporated more general criminal record reforms into legalization, benefiting people with different types of criminal records in their efforts to reintegrate into society. Finally, these four states specifically addressed racial disparities in marijuana criminalization by directing tax revenue and business opportunities for legal marijuana to individuals and communities disproportionately affected by criminal law enforcement.

The Collateral Consequences Resource Center, with support from the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, produced a report and an accompanying infographic that summarize the groundbreaking criminal reforms enacted this year as part of marijuana legalization and situate them in the national context.

Explore the report


Marijuana legislation and expungement in early 2021 report cover page

Marijuana legalization and expungement in early 2021

READ THE REPORT


Explore the infographic

DOWNLOAD THE INFOGRAPHIC

See our full report for accessible versions of the content included in this infographic.


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