Nearly 88,000 of up to 360,000 marijuana cases, convictions, and pending cases have been vacated or dismissed since July 1, 2021, the New Jersey Judiciary announced on Monday.
A state Supreme Court order that “provides for the dismissal, vacating, and expungement of certain marijuana and hashish cases involving offenses enumerated in the Marijuana Decriminalization Law” took effect on July 1.
According to the Judiciary, “Violations of probation or pretrial monitoring also will be vacated and driver’s license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear will be rescinded.”
“Historically, New Jersey was among the states with the highest marijuana arrest rates in the country. Therefore, it is essential moving forward that the hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who have suffered under the collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction are provided with the relief they need and deserve,” said NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf. “This is a critical step toward providing justice and fairness to those residing in the Garden State.”
Many cannabis convictions in New Jersey are connected to paraphernalia-related charges, such as petty arrests for owning smoking pipes.
New Jersey follows in the footsteps of more than a dozen other states that have enacted cannabis legislation explicitly facilitating the expungement of marijuana-related convictions.
Earlier this year, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that state officials expunged the criminal records of an estimated half-million Illinois citizens previously convicted for marijuana-related crimes.
In California, state officials have also reviewed and expunged several hundred thousand past marijuana convictions over the past two years.
The order also mandates that the courts establish an electronic system to streamline the automatic expungement process as well as communicate with members of the public on whether or not their conviction has been automatically expunged.