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Connecticut Governor to Erase Thousands of Cannabis Convictions

Records from some 44,000 cases will be fully or partially erased.

Governor Ned Lamont's official portrait.
Governor Ned Lamont's official portrait.

On Tuesday, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced plans to clear thousands of convictions for cannabis possession. Records from some 44,000 cases will be fully or partially erased in January using an automated erasure method.

The policy is an integral part of the 2021 legislation Governor Lamont signed into law to safely regulate the adult use of cannabis.

“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,” Governor 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.”

Residents who have had their records erased may tell employers, landlords and schools that the conviction never occurred.

How people will receive erasure will depend on when they received their conviction. Specifically:

  • Convictions for for possession of under four ounces of a non-narcotic, non-hallucinogenic substance imposed between January 1, 2000, and September 30, 2015, will be automatically erased on January 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 possession of less than or equal to four ounces of a cannabis-type substance imposed before January 1, 2000, and between October 1, 2015, and June 30, 2021.
    • Convictions for possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia for cannabis imposed before July 1, 2021.
    • Convictions 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.

Criminal justice agencies under the state’s judicial and executive branches continue to implement the information technology upgrades needed to provide automated erasure of significantly more eligible criminal records pursuant to Connecticut’s Clean Slate laws.

The Clean Slate automated erasure system is expected to be fully implemented during the second half of 2023. Implementation involves significant IT upgrades to allow criminal justice agencies to send and receive data to determine who can have their offenses erased and to update record systems.

The state already has invested more than $5 million to implement the upgrades as part of a large-scale system development and integration project spanning multiple state agency systems. The systems involved are complex, and some are outdated.

In addition, significant interpretation issues may require clarification by the General Assembly this session.

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. 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.

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