Massachusetts Cannabis Expungement Guide

Massachusetts Cannabis Expungement Guide

Discover comprehensive insights into the Massachusetts cannabis expungement process through these detailed and informative Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

How did Massachusetts handle expungements for cannabis?

A law passed in 2018 allows judges to expunge cases for offenses that are no longer considered criminal, like possession of 2 ounces or less of marijuana. Moreover, the Massachusetts sealing law allows for the sealing of crimes that are no longer deemed criminal offenses.

  • Under this 2018 law, petitioners can seek expungement relief for past convictions related to marijuana offenses that are no longer considered crimes. This follows the legalization of personal possession of up to one ounce of cannabis in 2016​.
  • The Massachusetts Probation Service reported that as of 2022, less than a fifth of the requests submitted for cannabis-related expungements were approved. Applicants were either deemed ineligible or had their requests refused by the courts​​.
  • As of November 9, 2022, Massachusetts law provides for the expungement of records resulting from marijuana cultivation, possession, and/or distribution​​.

All felonies? Only non-violent?

The law in Massachusetts prohibits the expungement of sexual or violent crimes, along with most offenses committed past the age of 21​.

The eligibility for expungement also depends on the nature of the offense (felony or misdemeanor) and the time elapsed since the completion of the sentence. For a felony, the individual must have completed all parts of their sentence at least 7 years ago, and for a misdemeanor, at least 3 years ago​​.

Were there any crimes related to cannabis that disqualified someone from applying as a social equity applicant?

Criteria for eligibility for a social equity license include coming from an area disproportionately impacted by drug prohibition or having a close family member with multiple cannabis convictions​.​

There are certain criminal convictions that could disqualify individuals from participating in the cannabis industry in Massachusetts:

  • Felony convictions for trafficking crimes, except for convictions solely related to marijuana.
  • Convictions or admissions to sufficient facts for any distribution of a controlled substance to a minor.
  • Felony convictions for crimes of violence against a person or crimes of dishonesty or fraud. ​

Status of Current Social Equity Program:

Massachusetts has implemented two programs:

  • Social Equity Program (Still active)
    • The state has a Social Equity Program (SEP) that provides technical assistance and training to individuals most impacted by the War on Drugs, aiming to create sustainable pathways into the cannabis industry​
    • A social equity cannabis business in Massachusetts is defined as one at least 51% owned by residents who have lived at least a year in a community disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition
    • Additional Benefits
      • For those who maintain greater than 50% ownership in the business, the following fee waivers and exclusive license types are also available.
        • Waived application fees (this waiver does not include the costs associated with background checks);
        • Waived seed-to-sale Metrc monthly program fees (this waiver does not include other costs associated with the seed-to-sale tracking system, specifically the fees for plant and package tags);
        • Exclusive access to Social Consumption and Delivery License types for up to a minimum of three years, as well as a pre-certification application that offers applicants a preliminary application process that certifies their propensity to run a business of one of these two license types; and
          • Note: Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicants (EEAs) are also included in Social Consumption and Delivery Exclusivity; Microbusinesses and Craft Marijuana Cooperatives are also included in Social Consumption Exclusivity.
  • A 50% reduction of annual license fees, regardless of license type.
    • Certified Economic Empowerment Priority Applicant (was active for applicants between 4/1/18 – 4/15/18
      • Qualifications
        • The majority of ownership belongs to people who have lived in Disproportionately Impacted Areas for five of the last 10 years.
        • The majority of ownership has held one or more previous positions where the primary population served was disproportionately impacted, or where primary responsibilities included economic education, resource provision, or empowerment to disproportionately impacted individuals or communities.
        • At least 51% of current employees/subcontractors reside in Disproportionately Impacted Areas, and this will increase to 75% by the first day of business.
        • At least 51% of employees or subcontractors have drug-related CORI but are otherwise legally employable in a cannabis-related enterprise.
        • A majority of the ownership is made up of individuals from Black, African American, Hispanic, or Latino descent.
        • Owners can demonstrate significant past experience in or business practices that promote economic empowerment in Disproportionately Impacted Areas.

How Can Point Seven Group Help?

The team of cannabis consultants and professionals at Point Seven Group have worked extensively in the U.S. and international cannabis markets and are familiar with the unique challenges of the cannabis industry. Follow us on social media to stay up to date with more cannabis industry updates!

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