Expungement of marijuana conviction sets Missouri man free from prison
In the lead-up to voting in November, opponents of Amendment 3, claimed that the expungement measures may not actually help anyone currently incarcerated.
The claim was repeated and opponents of the campaign shared erroneous screenshots which highlighted language that would be removed from Missouri’s statutes claiming it added new penalties for marijuana possession. Even among supporters of legalization efforts, the claim that the expungement measures were limited and didn’t go far enough was one of the most often repeated talking points.
On Thursday, Adam Mace became the first person actively incarcerated in Missouri to have their marijuana conviction expunged as a direct result of the passage of Amendment 3 when Judge Michael Wagner ruled in Mace’s favor. That decision means Mace will soon become the first person to be released early from prison in Missouri as a result of Amendment 3.
Amendment 3 legalized adult use marijuana possession, consumption, cultivation, gifting, and transportation for adults over 21. It also issued blanket expungements for those who were convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses involving less than 3 pounds of marijuana, and carved a path forward for those still serving sentences to petition for expungement and release.
While there are elements of the expungement measure that are complicated and cumbersome, including the amount of work and backlog it will take to process the automatic expungements, the door opened by legalization for those currently incarcerated or currently serving probation or parole is priceless.
Mace’s case is layered.
The possession charge Mace is currently serving the third year of a five-year sentence for stems from a probation violation.
At 18, Mace was convicted of possessing more than 35 grams of marijuana.
While on probation, Mace was involved in a deadly accident while driving under the influence.
In 2008, Mace struck another vehicle and killed 44-year-old Denise Lero Greene. Mace was convicted of first-degree involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to 13 years in prison.
After serving more than 85% of his time for the manslaughter conviction, Mace began serving the 5-year sentence for a parole violation of his marijuana conviction.
It will take time for the court’s decision to be finalized and the paperwork to be completed, meaning Mace will spend at least a few more days incarcerated while everything is finalized.
Mace’s attorney, Justin Ortiz, says the process to start his release can begin Thursday, and he expects Mace to be released in the coming days.