As Illinois becomes the 11th state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis, Gov. JB Pritzker granted 11,017 pardons for individuals with low-level cannabis convictions.
The state legalized cannabis Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.
The 11,017 misdemeanor expungements were announced Tuesday, Dec. 31, and involve Illinoisans in 92 counties.
“We are ending the 50-year long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a state of Illinois news release.
The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act provides multiple avenues to expunge convictions and arrest records for minor cannabis offenses. Statewide, there are more than 700,000 records that will be eligible for relief because of the law.
Expungement of Convictions up to 30 Grams (Pardon Process)
For convictions up to 30 grams not associated with a violent offense, there are 116,000 records eligible for expungement through the pardon process. In Cook County, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has already begun to address stand-alone conviction records, with an initial wave of 1,000 convictions expunged earlier this month.
Of these 116,000 records, 43,500 records solely involve cannabis offenses and 72,500 include another non-violent offense. Only cannabis convictions will be expunged.
The Illinois State Police identified all eligible convictions and forwarded those records to the Prisoner Review Board. After PRB verifies the accuracy of the conviction records, the PRB forwards them to the governor for pardon consideration.
Following the gubernatorial pardons, the PRB will forward the documents to the Attorney General’s Office, which will file petitions in the circuit courts to expunge the records.
Expungement of Convictions between 30 and 500 Grams (Motion to Vacate Process)
Individuals, civil legal aid organizations acting on their behalf and state’s attorneys can file motions to vacate for cannabis offenses up to 500 grams.
About 34,000 records are eligible for expungement under this process. Cannabis sales tax revenue will generate funding for programs to help individuals expunge these records.
Expungement of Arrest Records
Local law enforcement agencies and ISP will automatically expunge arrest records that did not result in a conviction up to 30 grams. This applies to arrests for possession, manufacture, delivery, and possession with intent to deliver.
The arrests may not be associated with another arrest for a violent offense. Approximately 572,000 arrest records are eligible for expungement.
Agencies are to expunge these records according to the following statutory timeline:
- By Jan. 1, 2021: records of arrest between Jan. 1, 2013 – effective date;
- By Jan. 1, 2023: records of arrest between Jan. 1, 2000 – Jan. 1, 2013;
- By Jan. 1, 2025: records of arrest prior to Jan. 1, 2000.
On Wednesday, Jan. 1, the first phase of adult-use cannabis market opens. Entrepreneurs can enter the next phase of the adult-use market by applying for a license now through Thursday, Jan. 2.
An additional 75 dispensary licenses are available, and social equity applicants are encouraged to apply here: http://bit.ly/CannabisIL.
As part of the state’s focus on equity, one fourth of cannabis revenues will support the Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) program, which aims to address the impact of economic disinvestment, violence and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system.
SOURCE: state of Illinois news release