Seeing as this may be the last story you read this year why don’t we close the night out with some positive news?
NBC News reports that the Governor of Illinois granted over 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana convictions. This is only the first step as thousands more expungements are anticipated a new law legalizing marijuana goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. State officials have estimated that 116,000 convictions for possession of 30 grams of marijuana or less are eligible to be pardoned under this new law. People who have been convicted for offenses that involved more than 30 grams of marijuana can file court petitions to have their records cleared. Officials estimate that 34,000 records are eligible for being cleared within that process.
Earlier this month, The Root reported that Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx took the initial step of wiping more than 1,000 marijuana convictions from the books. This new law was crafted not just with legalization in mind but to help repair the damage that has resulted from these low level drug offenses. Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker announced the pardons at a church in the South Side of Chicago and said that clearing these misdemeanors will help individuals gain better access to jobs, housing and financial aid.
The American Civil Liberties Union states that 88 percent of all marijuana arrests were for simple possession with black people almost four times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people on the national level. The law in Illinois sought to address that inequity and wanted to make the expungements almost automatic when the law takes effect.
This is honestly a straight positive development and I would love to see more states take this initiative. The war on drugs has damaged countless lives, often times over minuscule amounts of weed. Any attempt to repair at least some of that damage is to be welcomed.