One year after cannabis legalization went live in Illinois, a focus on cannabis record expungement is expected to begin.
Initially, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the cannabis bill and also pardoned 11,000 people whose records showed low-level cannabis convictions. However, according to The Pantagraph, the state is home to over 700,000 people who also qualify for expungement. Few cases were expunged in 2020.
The bill states that it would become the responsibility of the Illinois State Police to find cannabis-related cases since 2013 that could qualify by expungement by January 1, 2021. The governor’s senior adviser on cannabis aid, Toria Hutchinson, estimated that could include up to 47,000 cases that qualify. As of this writing, there is no news on whether or not the state police would be addressing the deadline.
The pandemic rerouted priorities in the state, but has unfortunately left many people without hope of their records being expunged. Certain individuals, such as State Attorney Patrick Kenneally of McHenry County arranged to have 1,900 cases expunged in early 2020. In Lake County, only two requests for expungement were made, and both of those requests were granted. However, no other counties attempted to address the issue.
Advocate groups such as New Leaf Illinois are working to push the process along. New Leaf combines the efforts of 20 different, nonprofit groups that will help lead the way when it comes to the expungement process. Illinois Legal Aid Online are leading the program and providing instructions for those who wish to clear their convictions.
Those who were in possession of 30 grams or less face the Prisoner Review Board, who then passes cases on to the governor for review. If he pardons the cases, records will be cleared of cannabis charges. In order to apply for expungement, individuals must get a copy of any arrest and/or court records, as well as pay an application fee in the county that the incident occurred in.