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D.C. Marijuana Expungements Bill Becomes Law Following Congressional Review

A Washington, D.C. bill to automatically expunge certain marijuana possession records took effect last week following a congressional review.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) allowed the broad criminal justice reform legislation to be enacted without her signature in January. It was then transmitted to Congress, where lawmakers declined to overturn it, and became effective on March 10.

The D.C. Council unanimously passed the Second Chance Amendment Act in December.

Prior to passage, lawmakers adopted an amendment from Councilmember Christina Henderson (D) that clarified the expungements language, specifying that records related to possession of “any quantity of marijuana” before the District’s legalization law took effect in February 2015 would need to be automatically expunged by the courts.

D.C. legalized possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, but criminal records don’t always reflect the quantity, “so the court and litigants cannot tell from the record itself whether the record qualifies as decriminalized conduct,” the rationale section of Henderson’s amendment to the now-enacted law says.

“Including all simple possession, rather than just possession of 2 ounces or less, clarifies the intent and allows the court and litigants to better implement the law,” it says.

Here’s the text of the revised expungements section

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