State officials report nearly 500,000 cannabis arrest records expunged
As of Dec. 31, 492,129 non-felony cannabis related arrest records had been expunged at the state level by the Illinois State Police, ISP.
The milestone announcement by state officials came four years in advance of the deadline set in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, CRTA, which was signed into law by Gov. JB Pritzker in 2019.
Additionally, the governor on Dec. 31 issued pardons for 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records, for a total of over 20,000 cannabis convictions now pardoned since the signing of the legislation.
“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” the governor said in a news release.
“We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past – and the decency to set a better path forward.
“I applaud the Prisoner Review Board, the Illinois State Police, and our partners across the state for their extraordinary efforts that allowed these pardons and expungements to become a reality.”
The CRTA required cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 be expunged by Jan. 1, 2021, a total of 47,000 records.
With the expungement of all 492,129 cannabis arrest records, ISP is four years ahead of the Jan. 1, 2025, statutory deadline for completing automatic expungements.
While the expungement process has been completed at the state level, county clerks are still processing expungements at the local level.
Arrest records from DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will, and Winnebago Counties have been expunged at the local level.
The remaining counties have until Jan. 1, 2025, to expunge their arrest records.
“As we near the end of the first year of Illinois’ new legal cannabis industry, I am heartened by the progress we have made towards undoing the harms dealt by the failed war on drugs. Eleven states in the nation have legalized cannabis for recreational use, but no other state has done the important work we’re doing here in Illinois, where equity intentionality takes center stage,” said Toi Hutchinson, senior advisor to the governor on cannabis control on Dec. 31.
“We are one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings. 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.”
The Pritzker administration said it remains committed to upholding the intention of the law and ensuring the cannabis industry is equitable for all Illinois residents, regardless of background.
Under the law, 25 percent of revenues collected from recreational cannabis sales will be directed to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by the justice system through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Program.
In the coming weeks, the innovative R3 program will grant over $25 million in funding to organizations working in historically underserved communities across Illinois.
“The public servants of the Illinois State Police Division of Justice Services have worked diligently on the expungement process for thousands of eligible records across the state,” said ISP director Brendan F. Kelly. “We will continue to work closely with the governor in the years ahead to implement this new law.”
In addition to conducting a disparity study and providing financial support to organizations offering services in disproportionately impacted communities, the administration offered lower application fees, low-interest loans and informational workshops on cannabis-related licenses to social equity applicants.
The governor continues to work with the Prisoner Review Board and state’s attorneys across Illinois to expunge additional records of non-violent offenders with a cannabis related conviction.