Richard Wallace, the founder of the non-profit Chicago civil rights and justice organization, Equity and Transformation (EAT) says the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois presents us with “the greatest contradiction that we've seen.” Wallace points out that a “poor person sells cannabis to put food on the table; they're a criminal. A wealthy person sells cannabis to make more wealth; they're touted as innovators."
One important feature of legalization is that the arrest records of hundreds of thousands of people who have been convicted on marijuana-related charges are now eligible for expungement.
Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx worked with state legislators to help ensure the inclusion of expungements.
“This legislation is absolutely historic," Foxx told a Chicago reporter. "There is the potential for hundreds of thousands of people who have had marijuana convictions to have those records expunged."
Foxx has vowed to automatically vacate all of those who have been convicted for being in possession of under 30 grams of weed in Cook County through her office. However, she notes that those who have been convicted of possessing from 30 to 500 grams will have to file a petition to have the records expunged.
DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin said his office is taking expungements on a case-by-case basis. "Sometimes we object, sometimes we don't. We will treat cannabis no differently," he said.
State Senator Heather Steans, who co-sponsored the legalization bill, said there are more than 770,000 marijuana-related arrests and convictions now eligible for expungement.
To find out if you qualify, contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney experienced in helping clients obtain post-conviction relief.