Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx looks on as Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press conference in Chicago after Foxx filed motions to vacate more than 1,000 low-level cannabis convictions, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2019. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

CHICAGO (AP) – On Tuesday, the Illinois governor issued over 11,000 pardons for the low-level sentencing of the marijuana case, describing the move as the first wave of thousands of such seizures expected under new state marijuana legalization law.

The deletion process is a key part of the law, which went into effect Wednesday and made Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for people 21 years of age and older. When they developed the policy, Illinois lawmakers said they wanted to eliminate some of the damage caused by law enforcement efforts to combat the sale and use of drugs, especially in minority communities.

Democratic Governor JB Pritzker announced a pardon at a church on the south side of Chicago. He said clearing offenses from individual records would help them get jobs, housing, and financial assistance for the college.

Government officials estimate that 116,000 convicts for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana are eligible for pardon under the new law. Illinois State Police was responsible for identifying these convictions and forwarding entries to the State Prisoner Review Commission, which then sent acceptable cases to the governor’s office for forgiveness.

Pritzker pardon allows the state attorney general to ask the court to formalize the paperwork.

“We’re ending the 50 year war on cannabis,” Pritzker said. “We are restoring rights for many tens of thousands of Illinois. We bring regulation and security to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry in which justice is at the core. ”

Other states that began authorizing the sale and use of marijuana created procedures for people to rule out petty drug offenses, but Illinois officials wanted the process to be almost automatic for people with non-violent arrests or convicting marijuana on their records.

“We know that Black Illinois residents are much more likely to be arrested and convicted of marijuana possession than whites,” said Ben Ruddell, director of criminal justice policy at the Illinois American Civil Liberties Union. “This is a good step forward when we begin legal sales of recreational marijuana.”

Pritzker’s office said that 92 of the 102 state counties are represented among the pardons announced on Tuesday.

“The 11,017 pardons Governor Pritzker gives today are the thousands of lives that have changed forever, and hundreds more thousands will change in the coming months,” said Toy Hutchinson, a former state senator who is now Pritzker’s marijuana policy adviser. , “Those who are unfairly targeted by discriminatory drug laws can finally succeed and build a new future for themselves and their families”

People who have been convicted of crimes involving more than 30 grams of marijuana in Illinois can file a lawsuit to clear these records. Local prosecutors and legal organizations can also take this step on their own.

Government officials estimate that 34,000 entries may qualify for this process.

Illinois regulators said 34 outpatient clinics have been licensed to sell recreational marijuana since Wednesday, but not all of them plan to attend immediately. Industry leaders warn consumers that long lines and potential shortages of products await them.

“This is the first day of the end of the ban. This is not a finished product on day one, ”said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago-based Democrat who sponsored House law.

She noted that Illinois law ensures that the needs of patients who depend on marijuana for medical use are met. She says that lawyers recognized from the very beginning that the proposal would be a problem in the beginning.

“There will always be hiccups,” she said.


The Associated Press writer John O’Connor in Springfield contributed to this report.