HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Thousands of Connecticut residents will have their records fully or partially cleared of low-level marijuana possession convictions on Jan. 1, 2023, Gov. Ned Lamont (D-Conn.) announced Tuesday.

According to the governor’s office, approximately 44,000 cases will be automatically fully or partially erased as part of the 2021 legislation signed into law to regulate the adult use of cannabis.

Recreational marijuana is already legal in the state, and its first retail shop is expected to open by the end of this year or early next year.

The governor’s office issued guidance on how people will receive erasure depending on when the conviction was imposed.

  • Convictions for violations of C.G.S. § 21a-279(c) for possession of under four ounces of a non-narcotic, non-hallucinogenic substance imposed between Jan. 1, 2000, and Sept. 30, 2015, will be automatically erased on Jan. 1, 2023. People included under this provision of the law need not do anything to make these convictions eligible for erasure.
  • Convictions for the following violations can be erased if one files a petition in Superior Court:
    • Convictions for violations of C.G.S. § 21a-279 for possession of less than or equal to four ounces of a cannabis-type substance imposed before Jan. 1, 2000, and between Oct. 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021.
    • Convictions for violations of C.G.S. § 21a-267(a) for possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia for cannabis imposed before July 1, 2021.
    • Convictions for violations of C.G.S. § 21a-277(b) imposed before July 1, 2021, for manufacturing, selling, possessing with intent to sell, or giving or administering to another person a cannabis-type substance and the amount involved was under four ounces or six plants grown inside a person’s home for personal use.

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Lamont said that residents whose records are erased would be able to tell employers, landlords, and schools that the conviction never occurred.

“On January 1, thousands of people in Connecticut will have low-level cannabis convictions automatically erased due to the cannabis legalization bill we enacted last year,” Lamont said. “Especially as Connecticut employers seek to fill hundreds of thousands of job openings, an old conviction for low-level cannabis possession should not hold someone back from pursuing their career, housing, professional, and educational aspirations.”

Lamont said the Clean Slate automated erasure system is expected to be fully implemented during the second half of 2023 when state officials said other record erasures are expected to begin.

People eligible for Clean Slate include those who have not had any other criminal convictions for seven or ten years (depending on the conviction to be erased), have completed sentences for all crimes for which that person has been convicted, and meet other eligibility criteria under the laws, the governor’s office said. Eligible offenses include most misdemeanors, most Class D and Class E felonies, and most unclassified felonies with a possible prison sentence of five years or less.

In October, President Joe Biden pardoned thousands of Americans convicted of “simple possession” of marijuana under federal law, saying “no one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana.”

If your record is changed, Aaron Romano, an attorney, suggests double-checking its status.

“Even after there’s been a court order for those records, I have discovered later that those orders never made it over to the state police repository for the convictions, so these people are still walking around with criminal records,” he said.