Minnesota has officially become the 23rd state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana. On Tuesday, May 30th, 2023, Governor Tim Walz signed into law HF 100, the bill that legalizes adult recreational marijuana in the state of Minnesota. When the law takes effect on August 1, 2023, there will be numerous changes across the state.
Law enforcement agencies will need to enforce the current statute that allows for adult possession rather than the current prohibition law that leads to so many possession charges. There may also be a bit of a green rush in the state as businesses seek to cater to the new market for legal marijuana, marijuana products and marijuana accessories. Experts currently estimate that it will take at least 12-18 months, if not longer, before there is a functional recreational marijuana distribution system in the state.
One of the most exciting and important changes that will follow the implementation of HF 100 involves how it will affect those who have already gotten arrested and convicted of a marijuana offense in Minnesota.
Many offenses will be eligible for record sealing
Individuals with any criminal record, including misdemeanor criminal offenses, have to worry about their prior mistakes showing up on a background check. Even a petty misdemeanor that only results in a citation will still turn up during a background check and could keep someone from getting rental housing, enrolling at a college or securing a job.
Thankfully, for many people with marijuana-related offenses, those limitations will largely disappear after the state implements the new law. The state will begin automatically expunging both petty misdemeanors and possession misdemeanors related to marijuana possession, provided that the offenses don’t involve violence. Not only will the conviction records become unavailable, but even the state records of an arrest or dismissed charges related to marijuana will be eligible. People won’t have to petition to remove these minor blemishes. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension will create a list of potentially eligible individuals and will then have to automatically seal their records.
“If the offense would not be illegal after August 1, 2023, the legislature wants to vacate those offenses to re-sentence folks and to expunge records,” attorney Grant Borgen told KTTC News in Rochester. Borgen, who is a partner at Bird, Stevens & Borgen and head attorney at the Rochester Expungement Clinic, says “the goal is to provide people relief who have marijuana related convictions.”
Discussing one’s case with a criminal defense attorney could help someone with a prior or pending marijuana charge in Minnesota now that the law has changed.