CHICAGO — Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the forgiveness and expungement of about 500,000 criminal cannabis cases late last week.
Pritzker said he issued pardons for 9,210 low-level cannabis convictions, while Illinois State Police have wiped clean more than 492,000 non-felony cannabis-related arrest records.
The actions by Pritzker and state police were mandated by the Illinois law that legalized the licensed sale of marijuana starting in 2020. The intent of the law was to reduce the impact of the war on drugs on minorities, who were disproportionately arrested and locked up for cannabis crimes.
“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage,” Pritzker said. “But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past and the decency to set a better path forward.”
Required by legalization law
The law required 47,000 cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 be expunged by Jan. 1, 2021. With the expungement of all 492,129 cannabis arrest records, state police officials said they are ahead of the January 2025 deadline for completing automatic expungements at the state level.
Arrest records from DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will and Winnebago counties have been expunged. The remaining counties have four years to expunge arrest records.