How to increase your chances of expunging cannabis offenses from your record.

September 28, 2021 | Written By Kieran McDowell

Through my work as a Veteran’s Law Attorney, I have met a number of incredible servicemembers whose careers have been derailed by cannabis offenses on their military records. The doling out of harsh punishments for cannabis usage is not just limited to the Armed Forces, but has permeated through the United States civilian jurisdictions as well.

Although cannabis education has seen remarkable momentum in recent years, resulting in increasingly relaxed marijuana laws around the country, individuals with past marijuana offenses on their record continue to suffer the consequences from past indiscretions – whether through damaged employment prospects, ability to rent property, educational opportunities, and most notably, social stigmas.

Fortunately, for those with offenses on their record, states across the country are beginning to update their laws to reflect an increase in knowledge and better understanding regarding marijuana’s place in today’s society. This social and legal shift has opened the door for many seeking to have their criminal records expunged of past marijuana offenses. In fact, many states have already expedited the process and have published information regarding what types of offenses are favorably considered.

In order to increase your chances of successful expungement, it is important to research your specific state’s process regarding expunging marijuana offenses from your record. Although each state is different, typically you will need to provide documentation of the (as applicable):

  • Criminal Complaint
  • Affidavit of Probable Cause
  • Criminal Information/Indictment
  • Final Plea or Verdict
  • Sentencing Order
  • Proof of Payment of Financial Obligations

Once the proper documentation is obtained, normally you will need to state what type of Clemency you are seeking, and then properly fill out an application.

Normally you will need to provide statements as to why you believe your record should be expunged.  Each person’s situation is different and therefore there is no “right” answer and applications are judged on a case-by-case basis.  However, some areas to consider when drafting your statements are:

  • Time elapsed since offense (and post record/lack thereof)
  • Compliance with all Court Requirements
  • Positive changes in life since the offense (career, education, family, service etc.)
  • Specific need for Clemency
  • Impact on Victim of Offense (if any)

Finally, applications may sometimes contain supporting documentation for consideration such as letters of recommendation, diplomas, and certifications.  Once put together, ensure you retain copies of everything for your own personal records, thoroughly review the entire package to ensure compliance, and mail to the proper address for your specific clemency expungement request.

The process can seem very daunting, but just remember to keep your eye on the prize of having your marijuana offense potentially expunged permanently from your record!

If you are seeking an attorney to assist you in preparing your expungement application, please contact Kieran McDowell at or 215-619-3122.

Kieran McDowell is a partner at Parlatore Law Group who focuses her practice on assisting current and former military servicemembers with complex legal administrative issues. She joins the firm excited to provide her expertise in a wide area of military administrative law matters, including Performance Evaluation (Fitness Report) Appeals, Board for Correction of Naval Records Upgrades, Veterans Law Assistance, Disability Evaluation Services, Financial Support and Military Protective Order Assistance and review. For more about Ms. McDowell and how she can assist you, please click here.

This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. It does not constitute legal advice and is provided for informational purposes, only. In no way does this document guarantee the successful expungement of your record. I, nor any law firm in connection to which I offer legal services, are not liable for any actions taken based on this document. For specific advice, please schedule a consultation.

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