COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
More than 3,500 Missourians have seen marijuana charges disappear this year following the implementation of Amendment 3, but no one in Boone County or Callaway County is among them.
Missouri voters approved Amendment 3 during the Nov. 8 election with more than 53% of votes in favor. The legislation went into action Thursday and Missouri residents 21 years old and older can now legally possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana.
Courts have six months from Dec. 8 to expunge misdemeanor marijuana charges and one year to expunge felony marijuana charges. According to the Office of State Courts Administrator, 3,518 expungements occurred as of Thursday.
Boone County is among several Mid-Missouri counties and cities to approve an April ballot question asking voters if they want to implement a 3% local sales tax on recreational marijuana. Boone County Commissioner Kip Kendrick said the commission would like to use the first funds from that tax to pay for the circuit court's expungement costs.
"There is kind of a narrative going around that the expungements are automatic, and they are to a certain extent for the individual, right," Kendrick said. "Individuals can expect their records to be expunged, but on the processing side that's certainly not the case. It is going to be a heavy workload for the circuit clerk and for the judges and for the clerks who work in the courthouse."
Gov. Mike Parson is recommending $19 million be allocated to the state judicial system in the 2024 fiscal year budget. Parson's legislative team said some of that is to help circuit courts with additional costs from marijuana expungement.
"There should be money coming in from the state, and having served in the general assembly and working on the budget, I know not to hold our breaths, right," Kendrick said.
Dan Viets, Missouri representative for NORML and co-author of Amendment 3, said hundreds of thousands of Missourians are expected to have marijuana charges expunged.
"Employment, makes it far easier to find a job, in dealing with landlords in finding a home to rent, or in obtaining a loan from a lender for a home or a car," Viets said. "Those are the primary areas where expungement can really be life-changing."