One of the first courts in the state to release someone from prison after expunging a prior Marijuana conviction may be in Cass County. According to the language of the Amendment Missouri voters approved in 2022, prior convictions for those who have already served their terms or who had a previous felony and misdemeanor charges are automatically expunged over the course of a year.
However, those who are incarcerated, on parole, or under probation must file a petition with the court to have their case expunged, which raises certain procedural ambiguities. Even though the constitutional amendment is lengthy, according to attorney Justin Ortiz, it does not cover everything.
Timelines, notification requirements, and other elements that you would typically see in normal statutes or laws are therefore absent from this. Adam Mace, who is three years into a five-year sentence linked to a marijuana possession charge from the mid-2000s, is represented by Ortiz.
The case of Mace is more intricate than most. He was convicted of a fatal DUI and sentenced to prison 14 years ago. Since he served 11 years in prison for that conviction, the only one currently holding him behind bars is for marijuana possession.
With his freedom potentially in jeopardy, he has been left to observe as the Missouri legislature introduces bills to legalize first medical marijuana and then recreational marijuana. On a phone call from the Algoa Correctional Facility, Mace remarked, “Man, it’s a roller coaster ride.”
He understands the absurdity of his continued incarceration for marijuana while all forms of it will be purchased by adults in Missouri in February, generating tax income for local governments. It’s discouraging to know that the state is making money while locking up people for the same offense, said Mace.
The advantage, according to Justin Ortiz, is that Mace has a strong case. Adam, in my opinion, meets several criteria for the expungement part of the amendment, Ortiz said. Because it occurred in the middle of the 2000s, according to Ortiz, Mace’s possession charge was prosecuted under tougher rules. Cannabis-related restrictions have since been loosened.
Even yet, as this is one of the first cases to request expungement, the case’s paperwork, deadlines, and expectations are all being monitored. The courts and everyone else are attempting to determine the right course of action, according to Ortiz. Originally scheduled for January 12, Mace’s court appearance has been postponed by a week due to a scheduling conflict at the court.