How Do I Expunge a Marijuana Conviction?


When was the last time that you read about the law and said, “that’s awesome?” If you have been convicted of a marijuana offense in California, there is a good chance that you are going to be pleasantly surprised. You can get a clean record, and you don’t have to hire an expungement attorney. In fact, you probably won’t have to do anything at all.

In California, if you were convicted after 1976 of marijuana or paraphernalia possession, or giving away less 28.5 grams, your records are automatically destroyed after two years. It doesn’t get much simpler than that. After two years, if you are asked whether you have been arrested or convicted, you can legally say no, with regard to the marijuana offense.

If you were arrested for a marijuana offense before 1976, you have to apply to have your conviction expunged and clean your record. (Hey, it’s still the law, it can’t be good news all the time.) Once the application is approved by the Department of Justice, they will review your record and physically destroy any reference to your marijuana conviction. In addition, agencies including the DMV, the FBI and local police will all be instructed to destroy records of your conviction.

Here are a few additional points worth knowing about expunging marijuana offenses:

  • The two year automatic destruction does not apply to more serious marijuan offenses, such as distribution of over 28.5 grams, or cultivation.
  • After two years have passed, or after expungement of a pre-1976 conviction, if you are asked about the offense or whether you have a criminal record, you may answer no.
  • You cannot legally be denied a professional license or permit in California because of your conviction.

So if you have been concerned about a marijuana offense on your record, there is a good chance that you can relax. It’s probably already destroyed. If it is a more serious offense that hasn’t been destroyed, expungement is typically an available option.

8 Responses

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  • I was recently pulled over by a cop and he found 6gs baggies and a scale. I am clean now and I haven’t been to court yet. I have good grades, in rehab, and im clean and I can get a referal from my rehab doctor showing that im clean. What are the chances that I will not beable to get my felony wiped off my record when im 18. I have realized I messed up and that’s why I have change.

  • I am very worried about my future and that I wont beable to get a job.

  • I received a letter from the Board of Vocational Nursing about my LVN license on August of 2010 stating that they received information regarding my 1976 conviction for Possession of a controlled Substance (which was marijuana). So have my records been destroyed and why were they able to get them? I’ve had my nursing license since 1978, should I worry about this if I want to apply for another job? They gave me my license after I had to submit a letter of explanation.

  • I would like to know where one can obtain an application to have a pre-1976 MJ conviction
    detroyed if one lives on the other end of the country. Anyone?

  • After 2 years do I have to contact the DOJ to have the destroy the records before I get a background check? It says it automatically gets destroyed but I just want to make sure I dont have to contact the DOJ. Thanks

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