With states around the country legalizing marijuana, there’s been a lot of talk about “expungement.” Expungement is when a state has records of a crime you committed removed from state or Federal repositories. However, California passed a legalization law in November that does one better: It lets you seal your records.
“When you seal your records the Court and State law enforcement agencies destroy record of your arrest and conviction,” California attorney James S. Muller told The 420 Times. “An expungement does not destroy record of your arrest but instead your record will show that the conviction was dismissed.”
Muller said that you can legally tell your employer you’ve never been convicted of a crime regardless of if it was expunged or sealed, but that doesn’t fully protect you.
“If you only have an expungement and are applying for a government job or a job which requires a government-issued license, certificate, or permit, or a job which involves a security clearance, the conviction will be discovered; in such cases, you should disclose the initial conviction and its later expungement,” Muller said. “If records have been sealed under Prop 64, then you can legally tell employers that require a security or a licensing boards that you were never arrested for that crime and record of the crime should not be discoverable.”
Some marijuana crimes that were considered felonies are now being reduced to misdemeanors under California’s law, Muller said, so you will be able to say you’ve never been convicted of a felony in those cases.
“By reducing felonies to misdemeanors,” Muller said. “Felonies are usually impediments to obtaining government licenses and permits. We anticipate that this will be case for people trying to obtain permits to grow and sell MJ.”
Prop. 64 also does something to help the communities ravaged by the drug war. Some of the billions the marijuana industry will make annually will be taxed, and part of the tax revenue goes to “support economic development in communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition.” Not only is California helping people get rid of their criminal records, it’s helping the communities many of them live in.