Almost 500k cannabis arrest records to be expunged 4 years early in Illinois

Midwest

FILE – In this March 30, 2020 file photo, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks in Chicago during the daily update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Pritzker said during a stop in Rock Island, Ill., Monday, July 27, 2020, that “things are not moving in the right direction” in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic in Illinois, where officials reported a sixth day in a row of more than 1,000 newly confirmed cases. Earlier in Quincy, the Democrat said he didn’t expect life in Illinois to return to normal until sometime next year. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP, File)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (KTVI) — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Thursday that nearly 500,000 non-felony cannabis related arrest records have been expunged at the state level.

The long-awaited announcement came four years in advance of the deadline set in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), the cannabis legislation signed into law by Pritzker in 2019.

The CRTA requires cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 to be expunged by Jan. 1, 2021.

With the expungement of all 492,129 cannabis arrest records, Illinois State Police is four years ahead of the Jan. 1, 2025 statutory deadline for completing automatic expungement.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” said Governor J.B. Pritzker. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward. I applaud the Prisoner Review Board, the Illinois State Police, and our partners across the state for their extraordinary efforts that allowed these pardons and expungements to become a reality.” 

While the expungement process has been completed at the state level, the Pritzker administrations said county clerks are still processing expungements at the local level.

Arrest records have been expunged at the local level for DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will, and Winnebago Counties.

The remaining counties have until Jan. 1, 2025 to expunge their arrest records.

Additionally, the Governor issued pardons for 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records, for a total of over 20,000 cannabis convictions now pardoned since the signing of the legislation.

The administration said they remain committed to upholding the intention of the law and ensuring the cannabis industry is equitable for all Illinois residents regardless of their background.

Under the law, 25% of the collected revenues from recreational cannabis sales will be directed to communities that have been impacted by the justice system through the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program.

In the upcoming weeks, the R3 program will grant over $25 million in funding to organizations working in historically underserved communities across Illinois.

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