Illinois governor clears thousands of marijuana convictions

Illinois’ governor granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state’s new marijuana legalization law.

Posted: Dec 31, 2019 4:00 PM

CHICAGO (AP) — Illinois’ governor granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday, describing the step as a first wave of thousands of such expungements anticipated under the state’s new marijuana legalization law.

The expungement process is a key part of the law, which takes effect Wednesday and made Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for people 21 or older. When they crafted the policy, Illinois lawmakers said they wanted to repair some of the damage caused by law enforcement’s efforts to combat sale and use of the drug, particularly in minority communities.

Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker announced the pardons at a church on Chicago’s South Side. He said clearing the misdemeanor offenses from individuals’ records will make it easier for them to get jobs, housing and financial aid for college.

State officials estimate that 116,000 convictions for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana are eligible for pardons under the new law. Illinois State Police were responsible for identifying those convictions and sending the records to the state’s Prisoner Review Board, which then forwarded eligible cases to the governor’s office for pardons.

Pritzker’s pardons allow the state’s attorney general to ask courts to formally clear the records.

“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a statement. “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.”

Other states that have begun permitting marijuana’s sale and use created procedures for people to expunge minor drug offenses, but Illinois officials wanted the process to be almost automatic for people with non-violent marijuana arrests or convictions on their records.

“We know that Black Illinois residents are far more likely to be arrested and convicted for marijuana possession than whites,” said Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “This is a good step forward as we begin the legal sales of recreational marijuana.”

Pritzker’s office said 92 of the state’s 102 counties are represented among the pardons announced Tuesday.

“The 11,017 pardons that Gov. Pritzker is granting today are thousands of lives forever changed — and hundreds of thousands more will be changed in the coming months,” said Toi Hutchinson , a former state senator who now is an adviser to Pritzker on marijuana policy. “Those who were unfairly targeted by discriminatory drug laws can finally get ahead and build a new future for themselves and their families.”

People who have been convicted of offenses involving more than 30 grams of marijuana in Illinois can file court petitions to clear those records. Local prosecutors and legal aid organizations also can take that step independently.

State officials estimate that 34,000 records are eligible for that process.

Illinois regulators said 34 dispensaries have been issued licenses to sell recreational marijuana starting Wednesday, but not all of them plan to participate immediately. Industry leaders have warned consumers to expect long lines and potential shortages of products.

“This is Day One of the end of prohibition. This is not a finished product on Day One,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legislation in the House.

She noted that the Illinois law ensures that the needs of patients who depend on marijuana for medical use will be met. She says advocates have acknowledged since the beginning that supply will be an issue at first.

“There will always be hiccups,” she said.

___

Associated Press writer John O’Connor in Springfield contributed to this report.

Terre Haute
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Robinson
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 64°
Indianapolis
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 70° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Casey
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Marshall
Cloudy
64° wxIcon
Hi: 71° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 64°
Scattered Showers and Thundershowers
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1366179

Reported Deaths: 24795
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook54690810144
DuPage907991285
Will75762993
Lake67398990
Kane58533778
Winnebago33359477
Madison30572520
McHenry28675288
St. Clair27899514
Peoria23185317
Champaign20699145
Sangamon18823234
McLean18225181
Tazewell16983291
Rock Island15029318
Kankakee14223210
Kendall1309294
LaSalle12585244
Macon10778200
DeKalb9901119
Vermilion9686132
Adams8474123
Williamson7442130
Whiteside7165172
Boone671774
Ogle612081
Grundy589976
Clinton576390
Coles568996
Knox5569150
Jackson503164
Henry500767
Livingston483185
Stephenson476983
Woodford476177
Effingham472972
Macoupin471583
Marion4471115
Franklin445975
Monroe435793
Jefferson4300120
Lee417453
Randolph413384
Fulton395357
Morgan390282
Logan388959
Montgomery372974
Bureau372782
Christian367973
Fayette317855
Perry317760
Iroquois302766
McDonough286447
Jersey269350
Douglas259035
Saline256454
Lawrence240625
Shelby229937
Union226140
Crawford212126
Bond205524
Cass199525
Jo Daviess181924
Clark180433
Warren180146
Pike179352
Ford179047
Wayne178053
Hancock176131
Carroll175636
Richland175240
Edgar170640
White169826
Washington164425
Moultrie161128
De Witt151725
Mason151645
Piatt150014
Clay148143
Mercer147533
Johnson144515
Greene143933
Massac134640
Wabash134612
Cumberland129019
Menard123712
Jasper115118
Marshall107418
Hamilton83515
Schuyler7607
Brown7106
Pulaski6867
Stark63824
Edwards56912
Henderson52414
Calhoun5182
Putnam4833
Scott4791
Alexander46811
Gallatin4604
Hardin38612
Pope3224
Out of IL111
Unassigned02356

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 735462

Reported Deaths: 13480
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1006161752
Lake54169976
Allen40913680
St. Joseph36301553
Hamilton35807408
Elkhart28815442
Tippecanoe22464219
Vanderburgh22367397
Porter18921310
Johnson18063381
Hendricks17310315
Clark13032192
Madison12754339
Vigo12497249
LaPorte12073215
Monroe11945170
Delaware10750187
Howard9985218
Kosciusko9463117
Hancock8367142
Bartholomew8096156
Warrick7797155
Floyd7686178
Grant7094174
Wayne7069199
Boone6740101
Morgan6606139
Dubois6165117
Marshall6108112
Cass5886105
Dearborn583178
Henry5779105
Noble565084
Jackson503473
Shelby494196
Lawrence4591120
Gibson436892
Harrison436472
DeKalb430485
Clinton428453
Montgomery425789
Whitley397939
Huntington394280
Steuben391057
Miami383768
Knox372890
Jasper372049
Putnam363360
Wabash355280
Adams342655
Ripley340870
Jefferson331881
White316854
Daviess298399
Wells292081
Decatur285992
Fayette281962
Greene280485
Posey272034
LaGrange268870
Scott267454
Clay261147
Washington242132
Randolph242081
Spencer232731
Jennings230949
Starke218954
Fountain213746
Sullivan212242
Owen203056
Jay197630
Fulton196140
Carroll190220
Orange184454
Perry184437
Rush174025
Vermillion170044
Franklin168435
Tipton163345
Parke146716
Pike135334
Blackford135132
Pulaski117345
Newton108834
Brown102641
Crawford101415
Benton99014
Martin89515
Warren82615
Switzerland7948
Union71410
Ohio57111
Unassigned0417