Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced Dec. 31, the eve of adult-use cannabis legalization in the state, that he was pardoning more than 11,000 low-level cannabis convictions.
“When Illinois’ first adult-use cannabis shops open their doors tomorrow, we must all remember that the purpose of this legislation is not to immediately make cannabis widely available or to maximize product on the shelves; that’s not the main purpose, that will come with time,” Pritzker said in his announcement. “But instead the defining purpose of legalization is to maximize equity for generations to come.”
The pardon means that convictions involving less than 30 grams of cannabis will be automatically expunged, and the 11,017 Pritzker pardoned Tuesday will receive notification via mail, the Chicago Tribune reported.
State officials estimate that there are hundreds of thousands of people in Illinois who could be eligible for expungement, according to the news outlet. Illinois State Police are searching criminal records to identify eligible cases and submitting them to the Prisoner Review Board, which reviews the cases and sends the names of those eligible for expungement to the governor’s office to be considered for a pardon.
While many of the cases will be automatically expunged in the next couple of years through this process, those with criminal convictions can get a copy of their record and start the process sooner, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Cases involving 30 to 500 grams of cannabis are also eligible for expungement, but the process will not be automatic; individuals must file motions to vacate the convictions, according to the news outlet.