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JEFFERSON CITY - A new Senate bill signed by Gov. Jay Nixon is allowing people with prior marijuana-related convictions to have their records cleaned.

Senate Bill 588 was signed Wednesday. It expands the number of eligible offenses from roughly a half dozen to more than 100 non-violent and non-sexual crimes. It also allows people to seek expungement sooner, shortening it to three years for misdemeanors and seven years after a felony offense.

Additionally, the bill seals off people's criminal records to the public. However, law enforcement officials and employers will still have access to those records, which they are allowed to have under law. 

The legislation was designed to help people with past criminal records to obtain jobs easier.

In a statement on the governor's website, Nixon said, “Missourians who have paid their debt to society and become law-abiding citizens deserve a chance to get a job and support their families. This bill represents a reasonable, balanced approach and I’m pleased to sign it into law today.”

Missouri's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) coordinator Dan Viets said, “This law will allow many thousands of people who have a marijuana conviction on their public records to escape the lifelong disabilities such a conviction has caused in the past."

He said, "It'll help people who have a hard time finding work now to get a decent job, to not be saddled for their entire life with the stigma of a criminal conviction record."

Viets added that this bill is a separate bill that won't impact the legalization of marijuana in the state of Missouri.

The law goes in to effect on January 1, 2018.

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