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Era of Legal Weed Opens with Pot Pardons

More than 11,000 residents saw their records cleared of convictions for minor marijuana offenses as Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational use of the drug. Officials from the city and state gathered on New Year’s Day at a church on Chicago’s South Side to celebrate the end of what Gov. J.B. Pritzker called ‘a 50-year-long war’ waged by law enforcement and one that advocates claim disproportionately affected minorities. Those on hand included Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberley Foxx, whose office began expunging records for possession of less than 30 grams of the drug in December.

Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act upon taking office last year, with reports suggesting that as many as a three-quarters of a million convictions are eligible to be cleared. Records expunged at the ceremony came from 92 counties. Those with convictions involving amounts greater than 30 grams can petition courts around the state for clearance. In addition to lifting the prohibition on possession and use, the Pritzker Administration also is providing fast-track assistance for getting started in the state’s pot industry to those from communities hardest hit by the state’s war on drugs.