Illinois: Governor Vacates Half a Million Past Marijuana Convictions

Democratic Governor JB Pritzker of Illinois last week issued over 500,000 expungements and pardons for individuals with past, low-level marijuana convictions.

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

The announcement comes exactly one year after Pritzker issued an initial slew of pardons on the eve of the enactment of legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis sales.

Governors Burgum of North Dakota, Polis of Colorado, Sisolak of Nevada, and Inslee of Washington have also taken action to vacate the records of thousands with past, low-level marijuana convictions.

“The collateral consequences of a marijuana conviction last a lifetime,” said NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf. “I commend Governor Pritzker for taking action to ensure that the lives of hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans with otherwise clean records are not derailed because of an erroneous marijuana conviction that would not have been prosecuted today.”