State officials have sealed nearly 400,000 marijuana-related criminal records in recent months, according to data provided by the state’s Cannabis Oversight Commission.

At the Commission’s most recent meeting, officials announced that regulators have moved to seal some 330,000 low-level marijuana possession convictions and another 64,000 misdemeanor distribution convictions. Regulators were tasked with reviewing and sealing past records when the state first decriminalized and then later legalized adult-use marijuana possession.

“These initial record sealings by Virginia State Police are a small step toward righting the wrongs of cannabis prohibition,” said NORML Development Director, JM Pedini, who also serves as Virginia NORML Executive Director. “There remains much work to be done to permanently remove these stains from Virginians’ records, and we’re committed to continuing our efforts in the 2022 General Assembly to help expedite that process.”

Earlier this year, Virginia lawmakers enacted House Bill 2113, to establish a process for the automatic expungement of past criminal records for certain marijuana convictions. 

Virginia is among several states in recent months to take steps to either vacate or seal marijuana-specific criminal records. In Illinois, officials have moved to expunge an estimated 500,000 marijuana-related records. California officials have cleared nearly 200,000 records, and New Jersey courts have expunged over 362,000 records.

More than a dozen states have enacted legislation explicitly permitting or facilitating the process of having past marijuana convictions expunged, vacated, otherwise set aside, or sealed from public view. 

For additional information, visit Virginia NORML.

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