While New York expunged over 150,000 cannabis possession records last year, the state is now moving to completely destroy records upon request.
Last year, New York expunged over 150,000 marijuana possession charges, meaning that the charges were hidden to virtually everyone in the public. Then, last month, the state extended its expungement program to marijuana possession charges to stretch back to 1977.
Now, New York has taken another step in advancing its stance toward cannabis, by allowing citizens to request that their cannabis conviction-related records be entirely destroyed.
According to the New York State Unified Court System press release, expunged records may still be seen by:
• A law enforcement agency to which the individual is applying for a job as a police or peace officer; or
• A pistol permit licensing officer/bureau to which the individual is applying for a pistol permit.
In the instance that a citizen has their record destroyed, their record will no longer be visible in these limited instances that someone may still see their expunged record.
Additionally, unlike record expungement, which occurred immediately following the decision to do so by the New York Court, destroying records requires citizens to file an official form at the court where the conviction occurred.
The official form to destroy one's cannabis-related criminal record can be accessed both online and at courthouses.
The move to expunge, and now destroy cannabis-related criminal records follows the increasing legalization and medicinal acceptance of cannabis and marijuana products.
Earlier this year, New York was slated to legalize cannabis amid the COVID-19 pandemic, after the Department of Health stated that the War on Weed "had not curbed marijuana use despite the commitment of significant law enforcement resources."
However, Governor Andrew Cuomo backflipped on the potential legalization efforts, stating at the time:
"Marijuana and the gig economy were two of the more complicated initiatives that we wanted to work through that we didn't get a chance to do."
The destruction of cannabis-related records is a welcomed change in the eyes of cannabis enthusiasts but remains piecemeal when compared with the promised legalization that has failed to take flight for the past two years.
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