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Deadline to expunge misdemeanor marijuana cases comes and goes in Show Me State

"The job's certainly not finished. Counties are making a good effort to follow the law," Dan Viets said.

ST. LOUIS — It's been a busy day for countless for circuit court clerks in Missouri.

"It's gone smoothly in many counties," Dan Viets, a Columbia attorney with the Missouri Affiliate of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws, said.

Last November, voters said yes to recreational marijuana in Missouri after Amendment 3 passed by 53% of the vote.

As part of the amendment, all non-violent, marijuana-related cases had to be removed by Thursday, June 8.

"Many counties expunged more than a thousand cases, but there are a handful of counties that haven't expunged a single case," Viets said.

That's because clearing misdemeanor, marijuana-related charges off citizens' records, is no quick task.

"Clerks have to look through each and every possession of a controlled substance to check and see if it qualifies," Stacey Lannert, a criminal defense attorney with the Missouri Public Defender's Office, said.

Circuit clerks in 45 judicial districts have to review an estimated 100,000 cases by hand before the misdemeanor charges are reviewed.

"The expungements are automatic and do not require any actions on behalf of the defendants," Viets said.

He helped push recreational pot in the Show Me State.

"The job's certainly not finished. The counties that are making a good faith effort to follow the law, I think deserve praise," Viets added.

So far, dozens of counties, including St. Louis and St. Charles, have expunged nearly 1,000 misdemeanor charges.

"I think this is an amazing move for the state. It gives a lot of people a second chance," Lannert said. 

"It's going to help them find job, to obtain laws, cars, a house. It's gonna help them rent a place to live," Viets said.

In the last six months in Missouri, more than 46,000 misdemeanor and felony, marijuana-related cases have been expunged.

The deadline to expunge all felony marijuana-related charges from citizens' records is December 8.

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