Governor to Clear 800,000 Criminal Pot Convictions


For decades, getting caught with a small amount of marijuana could put Illinois residents in jail for up to six months and perhaps worse. Gov. Pritzker’s signature on a law legalizing recreational weed includes a provision for nearly 800,000 people caught in that snare to clear their records.

Lawmakers who drafted the measure making Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana emphasized repairing what they say is the damage done by a half-century of the war on drugs. They say it particularly affected minorities, who were likely to be arrested and prosecuted for marijuana offenses. Expungement of criminal records is a key part of that.

The new Illinois law drops the ban on possessing 30 grams (one ounce) or less of marijuana. So supporters are pursuing expungement for those who were arrested or convicted of that when it was a crime. This is because such records show up in criminal background checks and can cost someone a job or housing.

Illinois officials estimate there are 770,000 marijuana-related criminal records eligible for expungement.

In the case of arrests for possession of 30 grams or less, the Illinois State Police and local police agencies have six months to find those records and destroy them.

This means that the governor is likely to issue hundreds of thousands of pardons. But Pritzker’s deputy governor, Christian Mitchell, noted that the process is much more streamlined than the standard clemency process. The governor’s staff will simply be ensuring that the Prisoner Review Board properly reviewed each record.

Finally, for cases involving 30 to 500 grams, the person with the record must ask a judge to vacate the conviction and expunge the record. The judge will consider police agencies’ objections, the person’s age at the time of the offense and current age and any “adverse consequences” that would accompany denial of the request.

About royfmc

BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University's McCormick College of Engineering MBA from DePaul University's Kellstadt's College of Business JD from DePaul University's College of Law Website:
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