Reddit | Jackf1123

Illinois Governor Issues Pardons For 11,000 Low-Level Marijuana Convictions

As of Wednesday, January 1, Illinois has officially become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for citizens aged 21 and over.

According to Esquire, Illinois residents can legally possess up to 30 grams of the substance, while non-residents are restricted to 15 grams.

But in the excitement that occurs when a state signs such a decision into law, it's easy for many to forget an important question: what happens to those who have criminal records thanks to behavior they can now exhibit freely?

While that answer may vary depending on the state we're talking about, it seems that Illinois' state government is taking a big step to address this legal discrepancy.

On New Year's Eve, the day before Illinois' legalization program came into effect, Governor J.B. Pritzker granted 11,000 pardons for marijuana convictions.

Reddit | human_cannonball

And as The Guardian reported, he described this as only the first wave of these pardons, as an estimated 116,000 convictions are eligible for a similar redress.

Load Comments

For each of those cases, the individuals involved were found to possess 30 grams or less of the substance.

Reddit | Jackf1123

While other states that have made the move to legalize marijuana put procedures in place for getting similarly outdated criminal convictions expunged, Illinois officials are reportedly trying to to make this process near-automatic for those with non-violent marijuana convictions.

Load Comments

Additionally, those who were convicted for possessing more than 30 grams of the drug aren't necessarily left in the lurch either.

Reddit | Meta_Man_X

As The Guardian reported, these people can file court petitions to get these aspects of their criminal records expunged.

Apparently, there are about 34,000 convictions that could be erased with this option.

Load Comments

For Illinois lawmakers, these expunged convictions and pardons are an effort to repair societal damage caused by overzealous drug enforcement, particularly among minority communities.

Reddit | hiandlois

As Ben Ruddell of the Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said, "We know that black Illinois residents are far more likely to be arrested and convicted for marijuana possession than whites. This is a good step forward as we begin the legal sales of recreational marijuana."

And as Governor Pritzker said while announcing his pardons at a church in Chicago's South Side, those who received these pardons will face fewer barriers in finding employment, housing, and college financial aid.

Load Comments

34 dispensaries in the state have also received licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but consumers have been warned about supply shortages in the early days of legalization.

Reddit | snowluvr26

As state representative Kelly Cassidy said, "This is day one of the end of prohibition. This is not a finished product on day one."

Nonetheless, she assured the public that those who rely on medicinal marijuana will see their needs met.

h/t: The Guardian

Load Comments
Next Article