Cannabis Expungement Process In Bermuda Runs Into Record Keeping Issues

records files file cabinet folders

Bermuda is one of many nations around the world that is working to reform its harmful cannabis policies. As we previously reported, Bermuda’s efforts include adult-use legalization, although threats of interference by Britain are proving to be a major hindrance for that particular component.

A measure was passed in Bermuda in 2020 which sought to remove cannabis offenses from people’s records when the charge(s) involved possession of a personal amount of cannabis. Unfortunately, the process of automatically expunging records is hitting a major hurdle, as described by Royal Gazette:

A law designed to clear the criminal convictions of people caught with small amounts of cannabis has hit problems because old documents often failed to quantify the amounts of drugs involved.

The Attorney-General, Kathy Lynn Simmons, told MPs on Friday that work to expunge records of people caught in possession of small amounts of the drug since a legal change in 2020 had faced problems because of patchy police and court records.

She admitted: “To date, two expungement orders have been issued by the minister and we are seeking remedies as it relates to other applications.”

Unfortunately, as other jurisdictions around the globe work to expunge old cannabis convictions, this is likely to be a re-occurring problem. When many of the current laws on the books around the world were implemented, reefer madness was running rampant. As a result of that, all acts involving cannabis were treated harshly, regardless of the amount involved.

A cannabis conviction on a person’s record can have a negative impact on that person’s life well into the future, way past the point that they paid their fines and/or served their time. That is true even in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use.

My father was convicted in Oregon in the 1980s of a cannabis-only offense involving 4 ounces of brick weed. Oregon legalized the possession of 8 ounces back in 2014, with the law taking effect in 2015. He still fails background checks in 2022 even though Oregon legalized cannabis years ago. It’s one of many unfortunate examples of how a cannabis offense on a person’s record can have a lasting, negative impact.

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