The Illinois State Police and Gov. J.B. Pritzker on New Year’s Eve cleared more than a half-million cannabis-related criminal records, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The Democratic governor issued pardons for 9,129 low-level charges, while the ISP expunged 492,192 bringing the total to 501,321.
The ISP action was required by the state’s adult-use cannabis law, with a Jan. 1, 2025 deadline, meaning the agency completed the process four years early. In a tweet, Pritzker said he had pardoned a total of 20,000 conviction records since the law’s passage in 2019. The law required a total of 47,000 records to be expunged by Jan. 1, 2021.
“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past – and the decency to set a better path forward.” – Pritzker via Twitter
Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor to the governor for cannabis control, said in a statement she is “heartened by the progress we have made towards undoing the harms dealt by the failed war on drugs.”
“We are one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings,” she said in a statement. “The administration remains committed to working with legislators to address any challenges to equity and on building an industry that re-invests in our state’s communities.”
Under the legislature-approved law, 25% of cannabis-derived revenues are directed to communities that have been “disproportionately impacted by the justice system through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program.” Officials told NBC Chicago that the program will grant more than $25 million to organizations focused on underserved communities in the coming weeks.
Cannabis sales in the state have totaled $582.2 million since adult-use sales began on Jan. 1, 2020.