IL Initiative Helps Expunge Cannabis Convictions / Public News ServicePosted by On

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Since recreational use of marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2020, 700,000 minor cannabis records have become eligible to be expunged. (Victor Moussa/Adobe Stock)

Since recreational use of marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2020, 700,000 minor cannabis records have become eligible to be expunged. (Victor Moussa/Adobe Stock)

January 19, 2021

CHICAGO — A little more than a year after Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis, legal-aid groups are working to help residents get past cannabis convictions expunged through a state-funded program called the New Leaf Initiative.

Gray Mateo-Harris, a board member of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, said criminal records can prevent people from getting certain types of jobs, financial aid for education and even housing.

She reported 700,000 cannabis convictions are eligible to be expunged.

“Even though it is simply a conviction or an arrest that was likely dealt with a long time ago, still they’re living and reliving the consequences of that arrest or condition for the entirety of their lives,” Mateo-Harris explained.

Funding for the New Leaf Initiative comes from a tax on the sale of cannabis. Mateo-Harris contended it’s a restorative step because Black communities and other communities of color have been overcriminalized in cannabis arrests and convictions.

Mateo-Harris noted Illinois is unique in having social-justice measures built into its legalization law.

“We understood as a state that there needed to be funds and specific earmarked provisions…

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Since recreational use of marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2020, 700,000 minor cannabis records have become eligible to be expunged. (Victor Moussa/Adobe Stock)

Since recreational use of marijuana became legal in Illinois in 2020, 700,000 minor cannabis records have become eligible to be expunged. (Victor Moussa/Adobe Stock)

January 19, 2021

CHICAGO — A little more than a year after Illinois became the eleventh state to legalize recreational cannabis, legal-aid groups are working to help residents get past cannabis convictions expunged through a state-funded program called the New Leaf Initiative.

Gray Mateo-Harris, a board member of the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, said criminal records can prevent people from getting certain types of jobs, financial aid for education and even housing.

She reported 700,000 cannabis convictions are eligible to be expunged.

“Even though it is simply a conviction or an arrest that was likely dealt with a long time ago, still they’re living and reliving the consequences of that arrest or condition for the entirety of their lives,” Mateo-Harris explained.

Funding for the New Leaf Initiative comes from a tax on the sale of cannabis. Mateo-Harris contended it’s a restorative step because Black communities and other communities of color have been overcriminalized in cannabis arrests and convictions.

Mateo-Harris noted Illinois is unique in having social-justice measures built into its legalization law.

“We understood as a state that there needed to be funds and specific earmarked provisions…



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