Washington D.C. Automatic Marijuana Expungement Bill Becomes Law

In January D.C. lawmakers approved a criminal justice reform bill that included a provision for the automatic expungement of marijuana possession charges, and the measure has now become law.

The Second Chance Amendment Act was passed by the council by a vote of 13 to 0, and was subsequently signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser. This put the proposal before the U.S. Congress, who has officially declined to overturn it. This allowed the act to take effect on March 10th.

The proposed law initially stated that a criminal charge for the simple possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would be automatically expunged by the court from people’s records. However, before passing the measure the council approved an amendment by Councilmember Christina Henderson to change the two ounce limit to include “any quantity of marijuana”.

The text of the proposal states:

“The Court shall order automatic expungement of all criminal records and court proceedings related only to citations, arrests, charges, or convictions for the commission of a criminal offense that has subsequently been decriminalized, legalized, or held to be unconstitutional by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia or the Supreme Court of the United States, or records related only to simple possession for any quantity of marijuana in violation of D.C. Code § 48-904.01(d)(1) before February 15, 2015.

Under the proposed law all expungements would be required to be completed by January 1, 2025, or “within 90 days after termination of the case by the prosecutor or final disposition, whichever is later.”

D.C. lawmakers have also approved legislation that significantly expands the district’s medical marijuana program, including making permanent a provision to allow individuals to self-certify that they’re a qualified medical marijuana patient.

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