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Pritzker admin. expunges nearly 500k cannabis arrest records

Governor J.B. Pritzker took action to clean the records of thousands of people arrested for cannabis-based convictions four years ahead of schedule.
Fulton Recreational Cannabis

4 years ahead of schedule, the Pritzker administration has expunged nearly 500,000 arrest records related to cannabis and issued thousands of pardons.

On Thursday, December 31, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced the clean wiping of 492,129 non-felony cannabis related arrest records by the Illinois State Police. Additionally, the governor issued 9,219 pardons for low-level cannabis convictions.

The action comes from a piece of legislation called the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), which is the law that legalized the production, sale, and use of cannabis in the state of Illinois. A secondary piece of the bill required the expungement of the arrest records by various deadlines. January 1st, 2021 was the deadline for 47,000 records created between 2013 and 2019. With the full set of 492,129 expunged records, the administration completed the process four years ahead of the final January 1, 2025 deadline.

While the expungement has been completed at the state level, the local records of many counties are still in effect, and have until the 2025 deadline to do so. Counties with cleared local records include DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will, and Winnebago Counties.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “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.”  

“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. “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.”