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State’s Attorney for Illinois’ Cook County Files Over 1,000 Cannabis Expungements

Kim Foxx, the top prosecutor in Illinois’ biggest county, has just filed motions to expunge a sizable number of low-level marijuana convictions.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker look on as Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks in Chicago. (Ashlee Rezin Garcia/ Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

In less than a month, millions of Illinois adults will be able to buy marijuana legally for the first time. But before that, the state is doing right by those who got busted in the previous era. 

Kim Foxx, the state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois (where Chicago is the county seat), went to court on Wednesday to file a motion calling for the expungement of a little more than 1,000 low-level and non-violent convictions for possession of less than an ounce of pot. 

“As a prosecutor who has previously prosecuted these cases, we must own our role in the harm we have caused, particularly to communities of color and we must actively work to play our part in reversing those harms,” Foxx said, as quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times

The Sun-Times reported that Wednesday’s hearing at Leighton Criminal Court Building in Chicago drew a crowd of activists and lawmakers, including Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

An Ongoing Effort

In June, Pritzker signed a bill making Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use and expunge the records of 800,000 residents in the state who were previously convicted of petty, non-violent cannabis possession. 

“Today Illinois is demonstrating everything that can be accomplished when we set aside our comfort with the status quo and instead govern with the belief that our best days are ahead,” Pritzker said at a press conference announcing the law. “With this legislation our state is once again a leader.” 

The new law officially takes effect on January 1, when residents aged 21 and older will be able to buy pot at local dispensaries and possess as many as 30 grams of marijuana (visitors to Illinois will only be able to have half that amount in their possession). 

The Sun-Times reported that many of the 1,000 residents on whose behalf Foxx filed the motion likely aren’t yet aware that they were granted relief, but Foxx said they will be notified as such in the mail. 

According to the newspaper, Foxx “personally read the first 100 names into the record one-by-one” at the hearing on Wednesday as Judge Timothy Evans signed the orders and handed them to his clerk for a final stamp of approval.

 ”I commend you and your office and all those who supported this legislation. I think it’s altogether appropriate,” Evans said, as quoted by the Sun-Times.

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