Illinois takes another big step in marijuana legislation
Illinois is extending its progression in the decriminalization of marijuana as the state's governor granted over 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions on Tuesday.
According to the governor, these marked only the first wave in thousands of more expungements that are slated to take place in accordance with the state's newest move to legalize marijuana which officially took place on January 1st, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adults over 21 or older.
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“We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Gov. JB Pritzker said in a statement, per the Associated Press. “We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”
He went on to add: “We know that Black Illinois residents are far more likely to be arrested and convicted for marijuana possession than whites,” said Ben Ruddell, criminal justice policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. “This is a good step forward as we begin the legal sales of recreational marijuana.”
According to the governor's office, the pardons affect those with non-violent marijuana arrests or convictions on their records in 92 of the state's total 102 counties.
The 11,017 pardons that Gov. Pritzker is granting today are thousands of lives forever changed — and hundreds of thousands more will be changed in the coming months,” added former state senator Toi Hutchinson. “Those who were unfairly targeted by discriminatory drug laws can finally get ahead and build a new future for themselves and their families.”