Earlier this week, Illinois enacted one of the most far-reaching cannabis legalization laws of any state in the country. The law, which becomes effective January 1, 2020, contains provisions for the expungement of cannabis-related offenses.
Over the past decades, hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents (and non-residents) have been arrested for cannabis-related offenses and, as a result, have arrest records that have affected their lives by negatively impacting their ability to gain admission to educational institutions, ability to obtain employment, secure professional licensing and in a variety of other ways. Recognizing the harm that these offenses have had on the lives of offenders, the legislature has included expungement provisions in the new legislation to wipe away the criminal records of persons for offenses occurring prior to the effective date of the new law.
The law provides for expungement by 2 different methods (1) automatic expungement which does not require any action on the part of the offender; and (2) expungement that can only be granted by a petition to the court filed by the offender or his or her attorney.