A bill that would create a path for expunging criminal records tied to cases involving cannabis-related charges is on its way to the governor after both chambers of the Legislature approved the measure Wednesday.

The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 23-13, while the House of Representatives approved it 41-28.

While Senate Bill 2 does not eliminate conviction records, it would set up a system for reviewing and expunging criminal records from websites and other sources that are accessible to the public. It also requires a review and possible dismissal of cases involving people serving sentences for cannabis-related charges that will no longer be crimes if the state legalizes the possession and use of cannabis for adults age 21 or older.

The bill’s components were originally part of House Bill 2, a cannabis legalization measure that was still being debated on the Senate floor late Wednesday.

But some lawmakers asked for expungement provisions to be separated from HB 2.

Advocates say expunging records of minor cannabis-related crimes, which could hinder a person seeking employment or a professional license, is just as the state moves toward cannabis legalization.

SB 2 states past offenses could not be used to bar a person from obtaining a job or a license.

Charges involving trafficking large amounts of the drug would not be eligible for expungement.

Also, people who have been convicted of other crimes related to cannabis use — such as robbery or domestic abuse — could not have records of those crimes expunged.

When the Senate Judiciary Committee vetted the bill Tuesday, Sen. Joe Cervantes, the committee chairman, questioned whether the state’s court and penal systems have the time, resources and people to review all cases involving cannabis charges. The Las Cruces Democrat said he assumed there could be thousands.

Some committee members cited a 2019 TV news report that found just 108 New Mexicans were behind bars at the time for cannabis-related offenses. Cervantes said he found that number difficult to believe.

“You would think this was a big, big problem that we have thousands of people in prison for marijuana convictions,” he said, given the intent of SB 2.

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(4) comments

Mike Johnson

Of course, release more criminals on the streets with no punishment when we already have a crime crisis, what could go wrong?

Alexandra Pyle

As IF potheads drive the crime crisis in New Mexico. I’d look to alcohol, meth and heroin first, dude.

zach miller

Mike is a huge proponent of "if you don't think exactly like me you are a criminal that deserves to be silenced"

Gaetz is a sex trafficker but Mike's only concern is making up stories about our governor, because he is a racist against migrants.

Mike Johnson

Yes, for Mr. Miller, the last refuge of a scoundrel. If you have no cogent or intelligent facts or arguments, resort to straw men, changing the subject, name calling, verbal attacks, and playing the race card. With some people, verbal attacks and name calling get a comment deleted, but obviously this rag's overseers are not fair and objective about such things.....it depends on who says them......typical.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.