Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) 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 Thursday in a statement announcing the expungements. “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 for “R3 communities” ― those dealing with high rates of gun violence, child poverty and incarceration rates.
With Thursday’s action, the state also met a separate January 2025 deadline to expunge all…