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Missouri begins legal weed sales, but there is still 'a whole lot of confusion' around expungement

A small white box read "Marijuana Infused Product, sits next to a small white packet and a glass jar that contains marijuana flower inside. It is labeled "Quality Craft Cannabis."
Carlos Moreno
KCUR 89.3
An employee at Fresh Green dispensary checks out a customer purchasing a variety of different recreational cannabis products on Feb. 3, 2023.

Missouri allowed the first dispensaries to begin selling recreational marijuana this past Friday, which permits anyone over the age of 21 to purchase. But now those incarcerated for marijuana offenses are struggling to get their records expunged.

Recreational marijuana is now legally available in Missouri.

"A lot of happy people" is how KCUR reporter Carlos Moreno described what he saw last Friday as Missouri let dispensaries begin to sell recreational marijuana.

The state previously said Monday, Feb. 6, would be the start of legal weed sales to non-medical clients, so many dispensary owners were caught off guard by the early approvals. Luckily, most were already stocked up on products.

But one part of Missouri's Amendment 3 — the ballot issue that voters approved in November — is slower to roll out.

The new law includes expungement procedures for low-level marijuana offenses. Someone currently on probation or parole for non-violent marijuana law violations would see their sentence automatically vacated and later expunged from their record.

Currently, Missouri has granted more than 5,200 expungements across the state, including more than 1,300 in Clay County alone. But Syndey Ragsdale, a fellow at the Clear My Record (CMR) Expungement Project and Clinic in Kansas City, says the process has not been smooth.

"There is a whole lot of confusion and the Missouri Supreme Court probably needs to help clear that up," Ragsdale said. "We're seeing that the process being applied is not what the Constitution actually says at all, and the expungements that are getting through aren't being expunged the way they're supposed to be."

  • Carlos Moreno, KCUR reporter and visual journalist
  • Ellen Suni, dean and Professor Emerita at the UMKC School of Law & director of the UMKC School of Law
  • Sydney Ragsdale, fellow at the Clear My Record (CMR)Expungement Project and Clinic in Kansas City

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