Thousands of Connecticut residents will have "low-level" cannabis convictions partially or fully expunged from their records, according to WSFB in Hartford.
Starting on January 1, 2023, the state says records of approximately 44,000 residents will have cases cleared, including some that date back more than 30 years ago.
Two very different reasons were provided by Governor Ned Lamont as to why the convictions will be erased, the first and most obvious being that the state legalized recreational marijuana in July 2021, allowing adults over 21 to carry 1.5 ounces on their person or five ounces in a locked container or locked glove compartment or trunk.
“On January 1, thousands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” the governor commented.
The other reason, according to Gov. Lamont, is the state's job market, which seeks to fill "hundreds of thousands" of open positions.
"As Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations,” the governor added.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Connecticut is currently ranked #43 for "State Unemployment Rate," at 4.3% of the labor force unemployed (tied with Delaware and New Mexico). The median income for the state in 2021 was $78,833, $8,000 more than the national median household income.
Convictions that happened between 2000 and 2015 (when decriminalization passed) are eligible for erasure, but a petition is required in court to delete a conviction prior to 2000 or a conviction related to possession/selling charges (up to four ounces or six plants).
Per state officials, those who will benefit from having their convictions wiped out will now legally be able to declare that the convictions never happened.
“Residents who have had their records erased may tell employers, landlords, and schools that the conviction never occurred,” officials stated.
Recreational marijuana use was on the ballot for the 2022 midterms in five states: Arkansas, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
The vote passed in only Maryland and Missouri, joining 19 other states with legal recreational use.