Montana Courts See Low Interest in Cannabis Record Expungement

Montana courts are seeing lower-than-anticipated interest in the expungement of cannabis records following the state’s legalization launch.

Full story after the jump.

Montana courts report low interest in cannabis record expungement following the legalization of adult-use cannabis, Montana Public Radio reports. Consequently, an additional court will not be created to handle the extra caseload that was expected when lawmakers allocated funds for more courts in last year’s cannabis legislation.

Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin believes the local courts “should be able to handle” the caseload, explaining to MPR that her office is developing a form to help with the expungement process.

In 2020, Montana became the first state in the High-Mountain West to legalize adult-use cannabis through a voter-approved initiative. Montana’s Legislature crafted a regulatory bill in 2021, leading to the launch of statewide sales on January 1, 2022. The state reported $1.5 million in sales on the first weekend of legal sales to adults.

Meanwhile, a report last February found that Montana had the highest state-wide disparity for cannabis arrests between Black people and white people, despite evidence showing that Black adults and white adults use cannabis at statistically similar rates. Using data from the Americans for Civil Liberties Union from 2010 to 2018, the report found that Black Montanans were 9.6 times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession than their white counterparts — far above the national average disparity rate of 3.8.

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