HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The new year also heralded a fresh start for thousands of people in Connecticut.

The state officially erased 42,964 cannabis convictions Sunday morning, according to a tweet from Gov. Ned Lamont. The new year also brought in several new laws to the state.

“It’s one step forward in ending the War on Drugs and giving our citizens a second chance to achieve their dreams,” Lamont wrote.

The convictions that were erased automatically were for possessing four ounces or less of marijuana between the years 2000 and September 2015.

CEO Nautilus Botanicals Luis Vega called the new legislation “a weight lifted off his shoulders”, that weight being, six convictions of marijuana possession and cultivation.

“Cannabis offenses are something near and dear because it personally affected me,” Nautilus Botanicals CEO Luis Vega said. “The new laws have really allowed for an even playing field.”

The North Haven man told News 8 he knows firsthand how much of an impact an old, low-level possession charge can have. “I lost my job,” Vega said. “It really diminished any job aspects, I couldn’t get a job at McDonald’s.”

District 10 State Sen. Gary Winfield has been advocating for this new legislation for close to a decade. He told News 8 this clean slate will change people’s lives.

“There are folks who go looking for jobs who don’t have a record held over their heads,” Sen. Gary Winfield said. “Opportunities to work in ways they haven’t and hold their families up in ways they haven’t and be outstanding parts of the community so I feel really good about the fact that we did this.”

Lamont had previously announced that thousands of low-level cannabis convictions would be automatically erased on Jan. 1.

“Especially as employers seek to fill job openings, an old conviction for low-level possession should not hold someone back from their aspirations,” he wrote last month.

The move follows 2021 legislation that also regulates the adult use of cannabis. Recreational marijuana is already legal in the state, and dispensaries can begin selling it on Jan. 10.