Pritzker says nearly 500,000 cannabis arrest records have been expunged at the state level

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Gov. Pritzker announced on Thursday that 492,129 non-felony cannabis related arrest records have been expunged at the state level by the Illinois State police

Additionally, the governor issued pardons for 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records.

This totals to over 20,000 cannabis convictions pardoned since the signing of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) in 2019 by Gov. Pritzker.

"Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color," said Gov. 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." 

The CRTA requires cannabis-related arrest records created between 2013 and 2019 be expunged by Jan. 1, 2021, which is a total of 47,000 records. Gov. Pritzker says with the expungement of all 492,129 records, ISP is four years ahead of the Jan. 1, 2025 statutory deadline for completing automatic expungements.

Although the expungement process has been completed at the state level, officials say county clerks are still processing expungements at the local level.

At this time, arrest records from DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will and Winnebago Counties have been expunged at the local level.

The remaining counties have until Jan. 1, 2025 to expunge their arrest records.   

"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." 


According to a press release from the governor's office, 25 percent of revenues collected from recreational cannabis sales are to be directed to communities that have been "disproportionately impacted by the justice system through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew (R3) Program."

The R3 program will grant over $25 million in funding to organizations working in historically underserved communities across Illinois in the coming weeks. 

"While we have a long road to an equitable recovery from decades of an unjust criminal system, these efforts will take us a step towards healing our communities," said State Representative Sonya Harper (D-6th District). "I stay committed to continue the work with my colleagues to ensure that Illinois leads a cannabis industry that offers equity and justice to communities of color."    

Gov. Pritzker says he continues to work with State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, the Prisoner Review Board and state’s attorneys across Illinois to expunge additional records of non-violent offenders with a cannabis related conviction.