A top prosecutor in Illinois is kicking off an effort to expunge thousands of low-level marijuana convictions in her county.
Cook County State Attorney Kim Foxx filed motions in a court on the Chicago’s Southwest Side on Wednesday to vacate more than 1,000 low-level cannabis convictions issued to people who possessed less than 30 grams of marijuana. The move came less than a month before recreational marijuana becomes legal in the state.
Foxx issued the petitions to Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who granted the request to expunge the convictions from court records, The Associated Press reported.
“Today, we made history and took the first step in the single largest and most equitable piece of criminal justice reform Illinois has ever seen,” Foxx said in a statement.
She added in a video shared on Twitter that “clearing these convictions will reopen the door to employment, education housing and so many other opportunities for those who have previously been left out.”
This was an important day for justice and equity in Cook County – I want to tell you why we did it. pic.twitter.com/fG0aoA1Ic4
— State’s Attorney Kim Foxx (@SAKimFoxx) December 11, 2019
Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) in June signed legislation to make Illinois the 11th state, including Washington, D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana. The Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, will require the courts to expunge records for minor marijuana offenses.
Residents will soon be permitted to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product such as an edible and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
The Marijuana Policy Project has said that 770,000 state residents would be eligible to have their marijuana-related offenses expunged.
Foxx’s office will reportedly use technology developed by the non-profit organization Code For America to evaluate eligibility of defendants to have marijuana-related convictions expunged. Defendants will be notified by email or letter once their convictions have been removed from their record, AP noted.
Individuals who were convicted of possessing more than 30 grams of marijuana will be required to file a petition individually to get their records expunged.
“The time for justice is now, especially for communities of color who have long been disproportionately impacted by minor cannabis convictions and the failed war on drugs,” Foxx added in a separate tweet.