How does the compromise affect criminal liability and criminal records?

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The compromise offers several new protections against prosecution or liability for prosecution for marijuana possession.

First, the compromise eliminates criminal liability in two contexts that the ballot question does not address:

  • for possession of marijuana in the 1-2 ounce range over 21
  • for home grow of marijuana of up to 12 plants by persons under 21

Second, the compromise expands the availability of immediate sealing of criminal convictions to all prior marijuana convictions, irrespective of the amount possessed — under the ballot question, sealing would be available only if it could be shown that the amounts possessed were below the new thresholds.:

Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, a person having a record of criminal court appearance or disposition on file with the office of the commissioner of probation for a charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance under section 34 of chapter 94C of the General Laws shall be eligible to have the record and related records, if any, sealed immediately under section 100A of chapter 276 of the General Laws if the controlled substance specified in the complaint related to the court appearance or disposition was marihuana under clause (1) of subsection (b) of Class D of section 31 of said chapter 94C.

Finally, the compromise requires the Secretary of Public Safety to undertake a public awareness campaign, funded from the proceeds of the marijuana excise tax:

inform people eligible to have their records sealed as a result of changes to criminal laws resulting from marijuana decriminalization and legalization.