Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act impacts on central Illinois; future expungements

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS. — The state wants to use legalized marijuana to give a boost to the areas hurt most by illegal marijuana.

Governor Pritzker released a map Monday showing where people could get an upper hand on entering the recreational marijuana business come January 1.

The map shows the disproportionately impacted areas across the state when it comes to people getting arrested for weed charges.

Sections of Peoria like the South Side, Riverfront, and the East Bluff were in the impacted areas.

So were Bloomington Normal, Pekin, Canton, Havana, Galesburg, Kewanee, Lincoln, and Pontiac.

Mayor Jim Ardis says Peoria is set to get two recreational weed dispensaries which will bring some sales tax money to the city, but maybe not as much as people think.

“We’ll be looking at approximately $100,000 for the first year just because we’re not looking at the sales taxes until September. So we’re looking at roughly $100,000. If that holds true, we’ll be looking at 300 to 350-thousand a year,” Ardis said.

“Holding the number down, there’s only going to be 75 state-wide, in the first roll out. With only having a couple potential in the city of Peoria it’ll be very manageable. And I think we’ll be able to have a better idea of it, if any, negative impacts are there before that next potential roll out,” Ardis said.

Marijuana charges could vanish with the legalization of the drug as law enforcement moves forward on expunging records.

For people caught with less than 30 grams, those charges will be automatically dropped.

If caught with between 30-500 grams, those charged will have to go to court to ask for expungement. Peoria County Sheriff Brian Asbell says they will also need to get legal counsel.

“We’ve work hand in hand with Prairie State Legal, we’ve been doing that for several years. We’ve been working with state legislators advocating for this, this is a good thing. Trying to get people the opportunities they deserve,” Sheriff Asbell said.

Asbell adds the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office is being proactive to be ready for the influx of expungements coming to the area.

“We’re getting a full-time employee starting in January that’s gonna be specific to expungements. That’s all this person is going to be doing is trying to manage expungements and everything that comes in,” Sheriff Asbell said.

Asbell says he will know by the spring if his office needs any more staff to help with that process.

He adds that there’s multiple steps to get this process done.

“You have your police reporting system, your jail management system, you have your actual hard file, you have your paper files on the records because we still have to sign on reports where you have to print the report out because we don’t have electronic signatures right now,” Sheriff Asbell said.

Sheriff Asbell says there are shelves full of charges just from the last five years. So it will be very work-intrusive to expunge the charges which meet the standards of automatic law enforcement expungement.

He adds if the task is too heavy for the Sheriff’s Office employees, then they might look at outsourcing.

Asbell adds you can find jail records on the Peoria County Sheriffs’ Department website where you can find charges.

To learn more, go to the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s website.

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