Nearly 88,000 marijuana convictions and pending cases have been vacated or dismissed since July 1, 2021, the New Jersey Judiciary announced on Monday.
These are the first of up to 360,000 cases and convictions that are eligible for vacation, dismissal and automatic expungement “in the coming months.”
The actions by the courts follow 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” which took effect on July 1.
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.
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pretrial monitoring also will be vacated and driver’s license suspensions or revocations for failure to appear will be rescinded.”
New Jersey is far from the only state to take steps in recent months to expunge tens of thousands of former marijuana convictions. Earlier this year, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that state officials in 2020 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. California and Illinois are among more than a dozen states that have enacted legislation explicitly facilitating the expungement of marijuana-related convictions.
NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “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. This is a critical step toward providing justice and fairness to those residing in the Garden State.”