Rhode Island’s top judicial official has released new guidance on expunging marijuana records under a legalization law that was enacted last year.
State Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Suttell issued an executive order on Friday that lays out the policies and procedures for identifying and clearing the records of people with prior misdemeanor and felony cannabis possession offenses.
The legalization law’s expungement provisions recognize “the significant negative impact upon individuals previously convicted or civilly violated for low level, non-violent offenses for possession of marijuana,” the order says.
The Superior and District Courts and the Traffic Tribunal will be responsible for identifying eligible cases and processing them to clear the records, which the state previously estimated will impact about 27,000 people with only cannabis convictions and thousands more where a marijuana offense is part of their record.
“If the Superior and District Courts determine a criminal record is to be expunged, the Presiding Justice of the Superior Court and the Chief Judge of the District Court shall enter appropriate orders expunging the record of conviction and order all reference to the conviction be removed from public inspection,” the order says. “Said orders shall be sealed following entry.”