The Marijuana Decriminalization Law became effective in New Jersey on July 1. Among other provisions, the law provided for the expungement of criminal records for nonviolent and minor possession offenses involving marijuana and hashish. In the first two weeks after the law was enacted, nearly 88,000 cases were vacated or dismissed.
Since then, the judiciary has expunged a mountain of cases, for a total of more than 362,000 cases now deleted from court records. And more than 1,200 people have been released from probation after their cases were expunged.
Expungement has major implications for an individual. Once a case is expunged, an individual does not need to report the offense on applications for jobs, housing, or college admissions. A criminal background can hamper a person’s ability to get a job, housing or be admitted to college. Cases eligible for expungement include those related to certain marijuana or hashish charges alone or in combination with possession of drug paraphernalia; use or being under the influence of a controlled, dangerous substance; and failure to make lawful disposition of a controlled, dangerous substance.
The Administrative Office of the Courts is set to launch a public awareness campaign on Monday, Sept. 20 on the opportunities available through the Marijuana Decriminalization Law.