What a way for a state to end 2019. Today, the governor of Illinois has granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions in 92 of the 102 counties in the state.
The move is the first wave of thousands of write-offs under Illinois’ new marijuana legalization law. The write-off process is a key part of the law, which goes into effect on Wednesday and makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for people 21 and older, reports ABC News.
When drafting this law, Illinois lawmakers said they wanted to repair some of the damage caused by law enforcement efforts to curb the sale and use of marijuana, particularly in minority communities. Democratic Governor JB Pritzker announced grace in a church on the south side of Chicago.
“The 11,017 pardons granted by Governor Pritzker today are thousands of lives forever changed – and hundreds of thousands more will be changed in the coming months,” said Toi Hutchinson, a former state senator who is now a Pritzker Advisor on marijuana policy. . “Those who have been unfairly targeted by discriminatory drug laws can finally move forward and build a new future for themselves and their families.”
Pritzker said removing criminal offenses from people’s files will make it easier for them to find jobs, housing and financial help for the university.
But when officials said it was only the beginning, they were not lying. State officials estimate that 116,000 convictions for 30 grams or less of marijuana, including for drug possession, would now be eligible for pardon under the new law.
Illinois state police are responsible for identifying these convictions and sending the files to the state Prisoner Review Board. The council then forwarded the eligible cases to the governor’s office for pardon.
Pritzker’s pardon allows the state’s attorney general to ask the courts to officially erase or seal the documents.
“We are ending the 50-year war on cannabis,” said Pritzker in a statement. “We are restoring the rights of tens of thousands of Illinois people. We are bringing regulation and security to a previously dangerous and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that places equity at the heart of its action. ”
“We know that black Illinois residents are much more likely to be arrested and convicted of possession of marijuana than whites,” said Ben Ruddell, director of criminal justice policy for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois . “This is a good step forward as we begin legal sales of recreational marijuana.”
Law enforcement agencies have five years to delete registrations of minor marijuana arrests that have not resulted in a conviction.
The authorities estimate that 572,000 arrest files are eligible. Arrests of marijuana accompanied by violent crimes are not eligible for cancellation.
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