New Mexico Judicial Branch Seeks Changes to Cannabis Expungement Process

New Mexico Supreme Court Chief Justice Shannon Bacon wants individuals to file their own expungement applications instead of requiring the state’s judicial branch to find eligible cases, a change to the current legalization law. 

Full story after the jump.

New Mexico’s judicial branch is seeking to change the state’s rules for expunging cannabis convictions, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Supreme Court Chief Justice Shannon Bacon said the program should require individuals to file their own applications for expungement rather than requiring the judicial branch to identify the cases.  

“We think there’s a more straightforward and simplistic way to handle this that will take what has been an incredibly onerous process off the judiciary and put the control in the hands of the person that’s had the conviction.” — Bacon, during a meeting of the legislative Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee, via the Journal 

The expungement provisions were included in the Legislature-approved adult-use cannabis law. Bacon hopes lawmakers will address her concerns during the state’s upcoming 60-day session. 

In practice, Bacon said forcing the judicial branch to review criminal records for expungement eligibility has proven unmanageable since many individuals with cannabis-related convictions were also convicted of other crimes. She added that many prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, especially in southeast New Mexico, have used an objection provision included in the law to try to prevent cannabis convictions from being expunged from some records. 

“Judges are spending untold hours addressing objections to this process,” she told the committee, “whether there’s a cannabis charge or not.” 

Barry Massey, spokesman for the New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts, told the Journal that there is not yet available data as to exactly how many residents have had their cannabis-related convictions expunged since the law took effect and that there was no data as to the number of objections filed by prosecutors in advance of a July 1 deadline. 

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