Missouri Court officials have requested a further $3.7m to fund its ongoing commitment to cannabis expungements over the coming year.
As Business of Cannabis reported in December, 2023, more than 100,000 cannabis convictions have now been expunged in the state since legalisation in December 2022.
Courts were given until June 8, 2023 to expunge misdemeanours and December 8, 2023, to process felony convictions.
Despite this deadline passing, it has long been clear that the state would be unable to meet this deadline.
While it’s clear there are many more cases to examine, Clerk of the Missouri Supreme Court Betsy AuBuchon warned that due to many records not being digitized, ‘the total number left is uncertain’.
According to state law, tax revenue from cannabis sales must be reinvested in the states programme to first cover the costs of regulation, then to support the courts in their expungement procedure.
The notion of expungement for cannabis convictions was a key driving force behind the bills passage in 2022.
However, initially it was promoted as ‘automatic expungements’, which AuBuchon points out is far from the labour and cost intensive reality of the process.
Beth Riggert, communications counsel of the Missouri Supreme Court told local media: “Some circuit courts have advised they have not requested special assistance funds because they did not have current court clerks willing or able to work overtime, and/or have been unable to find qualified individuals to provide special assistance because the analysis required is complicated and better done by experienced personnel, such as retired clerks.”