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Illinois expunges nearly 500,000 cannabis-related records

Illinois expunges nearly 500,000 cannabis-related records
The expungements were four years ahead of schedule. File Photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 2 (UPI) -- Illinois started off the new year with nearly half a million less cannabis-related arrests on record.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced in a series of Twitter posts on Thursday the state had expunged "nearly 500,000 low-level cannabis related records."

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"Today, I also pardoned 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records, for a total of 20,000 since the signing of Illinois' recreation cannabis legislation, the most equity centric in the nation," he added in another post.

The governor originally projected a four-year timetable to start expunging records after 2019 legislation legalizing recreational cannabis use became effective at the start of last year.

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Pritzker tweeted in a post that the half a million expungements were "four years ahead of schedule."

"We reached this milestone one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings fueled by the war on drugs," he said in the post.

"We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden," he tweeted in another post Thursday. "But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past -- and the decency to set a better path forward."

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Though the process has been completed at the state level, county clerks were still processing records, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Illinois State Police have conducted the automatic expungement process four years ahead of a Jan. 1, 2025, statutory deadline, but most of the state's 102 counties still have to complete the process. So far, only DuPage, Kane, Knox, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will and Winnebego counties have completed expungements at the local level. The rest have until Jan. 1, 2025, to finish the process.

Illinois is the 11th state to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use.

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