Illinois Governor Announces Thousands of Pardons in Marijuana-Related Cases Before New Year

Illinois Gov J.B. Pritzker announced on New Year’s Eve the pardons of thousands of individuals for low-level cannabis convictions and the expunging of nearly half a million non-felony cannabis-related arrest records.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports the records have already been expunged and the pardon number was 9,129.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said in a statement. “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.”

The pardons and expunging come almost two years after the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which mandated 47,000 cannabis-related arrest records would be expunged by January 1, 2021.

Expungement has been completed at the state level, but the process continues in a majority of the state’s 102 counties, including Cook County, which houses the state’s most populous city of Chicago.

“As we near the end of the first year of Illinois’ new legal cannabis industry, I am heartened by the progress we have made towards undoing the harms dealt by the failed war on drugs,” Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor to the governor for cannabis control, said in a statement.

“We are one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings. The administration remains committed to working with legislators to address any challenges to equity and on building an industry that re-invests in our state’s communities.”