Following months of court closures and delayed proceedings due to COVID-19, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) is resuming the work of vacating low-level cannabis convictions. Approximately 300 convictions per week are expected to be vacated this month for non-violent possession of cannabis cases under 30 grams that occurred in Cook County between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2019.
“Felony convictions can follow people long after their time has been served and their debt has been paid. As we work to reform the criminal justice system and develop remedies to systemic barriers, I am proud that justice continues to be served in Cook County, for one, by vacating these low-level cannabis convictions to help move individuals and communities move forward,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.
Last year, on December 11, 2019, State’s Attorney Foxx personally filed the first 100 of the initial 1,012 motions to vacate in advance of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which took effect on January 1, 2020.
This month’s vacated convictions will be expunged and removed from individuals’ records as though they never happened. Once that record has been removed, the Clerk of the Circuit Court will mail or email notice to the individual’s last known address. This relief is “automatic” and requires no action from individuals with eligible convictions.
Foxx continued: “As prosecutors, we need to own the role ‘the system’ has played on the failed war on drugs, causing disproportionate harm to Black and Brown communities who were convicted of low-level cannabis offenses. Especially during COVID, when so many people are out of work, clearing these convictions removes barriers to living essentials by helping re-open doors to housing, employment and education.”
The CCSAO will continue to vacate cannabis convictions through the end of the year and then plans to continue into next year by vacating convictions that occurred between 2000 and 2012.
Last month marked a record-breaking month for Illinois with legalized cannabis bringing in $431 million in sales.
“As our state celebrates its largest one-month tax revenue from legal cannabis, we must also look to the history of cannabis in our city, county and state—specifically as this history intersects with our Black and Brown communities. While today the legal cannabis industry is dominated by white-led companies, in very recent memory it was our Black community who was severely impacted by low-level cannabis offenses. In my role as State’s Attorney, I will continue to fight for people who have been unfairly burdened by our system with a deep history of systemic racism,” said Foxx.
Additional information about conviction eligibility and the automatic expungement process can be found at www.cookcountystatesattorneysoffice/cannabis.
Cook County residents or former residents whose convictions took place in Cook County can update their address at www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/address.