Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Tuesday granted 11,017 pardons for individuals convicted of misdemeanor cannabis offenses involving less than 30 grams.
The expungements involved Illinoisans in 92 counties. The landmark bipartisan Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, signed by the governor in June, provided paths to relief for more the 700,000 cannabis-related arrest and conviction records. While Illinois is the eleventh state in the country to legalize cannabis, it is the first to legalize recreational cannabis for adults through its legislature, rather than voter initiatives.
In a statement announcing the expungements, Pritzker said:
Tomorrow when adult-use cannabis becomes legal, pay attention to the fact that we are beginning to accomplish four very important things: We are ending the 50-year long war on cannabis. We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.
The pardon process looks different for various offenses. The Prisoner Review Board reviews cannabis convictions for up to 30 grams not associated with violent offenses for accuracy and then forwards them to the governor for pardon consideration. There are 116,000 records eligible for expungement through this process.
Individuals, civil legal aid organizations, and the state’s attorneys can file motions to vacate for cannabis offenses up to 500 grams. There are approximately 34,000 records eligible through this process.
Arrest records that did not result in a conviction of up to 30 grams will automatically by expunged, so long as the arrest is not associated with a violent offense. There are approximately 572,000 arrest records eligible for expungement through this process.
Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton said, “Illinois is going where no other state has before, admitting that unjust errors of the war on drugs and giving so many Illinoisans greater opportunities to build good lives for themselves and the people they love.”
Many more pardons and expungements will come in the next several months.