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  • Summary date: Apr 16 2019 - View Summary

    Amends GS 90-95 such that it is no longer unlawful to possess marijuana for personal use in quantities of four ounces or less. Adjusts the penalties for possession of marijuana accordingly: for possession of over three ounces (previously one half of an ounce) the violation is a Class 1 misdemeanor; for possession of over 16 ounces (previously one and one half ounces) the violation is a Class I felony. Applies to offenses committed on or after December 1, 2019.

    Amends GS Chapter 15A, Article 5, adding new section GS 15A-145.8, which allows for expunction of criminal records for violations for possession of less than four ounces of marijuana. A person convicted of such a violation may file a petition in the court of the county where they were convicted for expunction of the offense from the person's criminal record and any other official record containing an entry relating to the person's apprehension, charge, trial, or conviction. The court must hold a hearing on the petition, on notice to the district attorney, to determine if the violation involved possession of less than four ounces of marijuana. If so, the court must order the expunction from the Administrative Office of the Courts and all law enforcement agencies. Any other applicable State or local government agency must also expunge the violation from their records. The agencies must also reverse any administrative actions taken against a person as a result of the violation when their record is so expunged. The Department of Justice, State DNA Database, and State DNA Databank need not expunge their records. A person who has obtained such an expunction order cannot be held to be guilty of perjury or giving a false statement for failure to state or acknowledge any of the expunged entries. Effective December 1, 2019.

    Directs the Department of Justice (DOJ) to collaborate with the Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) on or before July 1, 2020, to review court records to identify persons convicted solely of a violation of GS 90-95(a)(3) for possession of marijuana to determine if the person qualifies for expunction under GS 15A-145.8, as enacted. Requires DOJ to file a petition for expunction on behalf of such persons identified no later than December 1, 2020, and requires a court to order the expunction upon receipt of a petition, without holding a hearing and in accordance with GS 15A-145.8, as enacted. Directs DOJ to send notice to each person it files a petition on behalf of to the extent practicable, as specified, and publish notice of the process conducted on its website without publishing personally identifiable information. Specifies that the section does not create or authorize a private right of action to enforce the provisions of the section for a person DOJ fails to identify under the directive. 

    Effective December 1, 2019.