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Recreational Marijuana is Here: So, Can You Get a Marijuana Conviction Expunged in Illinois?

Posted by Dominick R. Dolci | Sep 16, 2019 | 0 Comments

On January 1, 2020, you will be able to purchase marijuana legally for recreational purposes in Illinois. Already, more than a handful of medical dispensaries have been approved to sell recreational marijuana. Just over 100 dispensary locations may be made available in 2020 though there will likely be no dispensary locations in downtown Chicago. With recreational marijuana almost legally available via Illinois' Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, it seems neither fair nor just that if you have a marijuana conviction on your record that it should stay there.

So, will you be able to get the marijuana conviction expunged if you haven't done so or weren't qualified to do so already? Here's an overview of what to expect.

Can you now get your marijuana conviction expunged in Illinois?

Not all but many of you will be able to get your marijuana conviction expunged in Illinois. Lawmakers included in the new law a provision outlining which marijuana convictions will be expunged. These convictions are primarily low-level cannabis convictions.

  • If you were convicted of possession for up to 30 grams of marijuana, the governor will pardon your conviction – this includes misdemeanors and Class 4 felonies; but
  • If you were convicted of possession of marijuana between 30 and 500 grams, you can petition the courts to have the conviction expunged – it won't be an automatic expungement.

The state police will identify all eligible marijuana convictions (30 grams or less). This information will be provided to the state Prisoner Review Board for review. Recommendations for pardons will then be provided to the governor. Once these cases are pardoned, they will be forever sealed and concealed from public view.

In Cook County, a partnership with Code for America, as reported by the Chicago Tribune, will automate the expungement process. It's expected tens of thousands will have their records sealed. This automated process will make the expungement process more efficient and effective. There is one caveat, however, and that is: if a potentially eligible marijuana conviction was charged along with other offenses, you will not qualify for automatic expungement but will have to have the convictions expunged through the normal process. 

Keep in mind: just because recreational marijuana will be legal for you to purchase and enjoy soon enough, there are still many marijuana offenses that will remain; the market will be heavily regulated. Further, not all marijuana convictions from days gone by will be expunged because – your conviction must qualify according to the above-designated quantity. 

Can you now get a pending marijuana charge in Illinois dismissed?

Lawmakers also recognized that while implementation of the new law takes place, individuals may still be arrested and charged with low-level marijuana offenses. Likewise, there may be pending cases dating back years. If you were arrested for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana, then your case will automatically be cleared.

The state police will collect cases where persons were arrested for 30 grams or less of marijuana since 2013. These arrest records will be automatically expunged by January 1, 2021. Arrests that occurred prior to 2013 will be addressed after this initial set of cases.

If you have been arrested for or convicted of a low-level marijuana offense, contact the marijuana criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland. We can discuss eligibility for expungement or file a case to request expungement. 

About the Author

Dominick R. Dolci

Managing Partner Dominick R. Dolci focuses his practice on criminal defense litigation and civil litigation. Dom graduated from John Marshall law school in 1990. He began his legal training in the Cook County States Attorneys Office where he worked at 26th and California. He then transferred ...


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