Gov. Pritzker grants 11,017 pardons for low-level cannabis convictions

State News

Gov. J. B. Pritzker takes in the applause before signing a bill that legalizes adult-use cannabis in the state of Illinois at Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center in Chicago. Illinois becomes the 11th to legalize the adult-use of recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

CHICAGO — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has granted 11,017 pardons for people with low-level cannabis convictions, beginning the first wave of cannabis expungements before recreational marijuana becomes legal come Wednesday.

With Illinois poised to become the 11th state in the nation to legalize adult-use cannabis, the New Year’s Eve misdemeanor expungements involved residents in 92 counties. and Pritzker was joined by community members, stakeholders and elected officials at Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago’s south side.

“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,” Pritzker said. “Every state that has legalized cannabis has seen high demand and long lines in its earliest weeks, and to be sure, our state will too.”

“But unlike other states, in Illinois, we purposely built a system where the market has room to grow, so that entrepreneurs, including especially those from the communities devastated by the war on drugs, will have real opportunities in this industry,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said the goal is to give people more opportunities.

“Illinois is going where no other state has before, admitting the 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,” Stratton said. “Our Restore, Reinvest and Renew program will direct 25 percent of the state’s cannabis revenue right back into the communities hit the hardest by decades of over-policing, disinvestment, disenfranchisement, and violence. In that effort, we’re lifting up the voices of the people who actually live in these neighborhoods, who know these blocks and exactly where our dollars will make a real difference.”

For convictions up to 30 grams not associated with a violent offense, there are 116,000 records eligible for expungement through the governor’s pardon process. 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, Pritzker said.

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

The Illinois State Police identified all eligible convictions and forwarded those records to the Prisoner Review Board.

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