The Chief State’s Attorney has moved to dismiss charges in over 1,500 outstanding marijuana cases, stating, “Persons charged with a possession of a cannabis-type substance offense that has subsequently been de-criminalized should not be prosecuted for that offense.”
State lawmakers passed legislation regulating the adult-use cannabis market in June of 2021. Provisions permitting adults to legally possess personal use quantities of cannabis took effect the following month, while retail sales did not begin until December 2022.
Those who had their cases recently dropped by prosecutors were people who had charges pending on the date the law went into effect.
“The state’s attorneys and their offices should be commended for their efforts and their commitment to addressing these cases in such a timely manner,” Chief State’s Attorney Patrick Griffin said in a statement.
Separate provisions in the state’s marijuana law provided for the automatic expungement for those with past convictions for activities involving up to four ounces of cannabis. In January, the Governor announced that the administration had “erased 42,964 cannabis convictions” as a result of the law change.
To date, 24 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws providing explicit pathways to either expunge (or otherwise set aside) the records of those with low-level marijuana convictions. According to publicly available data compiled by NORML, state and local officials have issued over 100,000 pardons and more than 1.7 million marijuana-related expungements since 2018.
“Hundreds of thousands of Americans unduly carry the burden and stigma of a past conviction for behavior that most Americans, and a growing number of states, no longer consider to be a crime,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Our sense of justice and our principles of fairness demand that public officials and the courts move swiftly to right the past wrongs of cannabis prohibition and criminalization.”
The full text of NORML’s report, Marijuana Pardons and Expungements: By the Numbers, is available online.