Illinois Expunges Nearly 500,000 Cannabis Arrest Records

Governor J.B. Pritzker closed out 2020 by expunging nearly 500,000 non-felony cannabis-related records, an action mandated by Illinois’ marijuana legalization law that went into effect a year ago.

As part of the action, the governor also pardoned 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records, part of the state’s efforts to repair the damage inflicted by the war on drugs ― primarily on residents of color.

“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden,” Pritzker said. “But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past — and the decency to set a better path forward.”

Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which legalized cannabis in the state, required the government to expunge 47,000 cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 by Jan. 1, 2021.

In a unique twist, the law also created a program that reinvests 25% of cannabis tax revenue into a fund for youth development, anti-violence programs, re-entry programs, economic development and civil legal aid services.


Kim Foxx’s Approach To Drug Crimes Is Bold — And Necessary

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx outlined a bold step forward this week, envisioning some convicted marijuana dealers having their convictions automatically wiped clean, with those busted for cocaine and heroin possession possibly getting their convictions expunged.

We know this kind of talk is sure to rankle professed law-and-order types, and it certainly could never be done without a drug treatment network that is far more robust than what the county currently has.

“I think this is the gateway conversation to deeper conversations around treating addiction as a public health issue and looking at the drug economy that has flourished in these neighborhoods while every other bit of economy has abandoned them.”