With marijuana now legal in several US states and the whole of Canada, demand for millions of people to have their cannabis convictions expunged is growing. In states like California and Illinois, the elimination of criminal records for cannabis possession is now being carried out on a mass scale, freeing an enormous number of citizens from the unjust stigma of criminalisation. North of the border, meanwhile, things seem to have stalled, with only a few hundred people having had their criminal records suspended since cannabis was legalised more than two years ago.

Half A Million Cannabis Convictions Expunged In Illinois

It’s now one year since recreational cannabis became legal in Illinois, and state officials have just announced that half a million people have already had their cannabis convictions expunged. Importantly, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax act, which allowed for legalisation in the first place, stipulates that state prosecutors must take the initiative in ensuring that all such convictions are overturned by January 2025. As such, those who carry a criminal record for cannabis possession do not have to apply or pay any fees in order to see their slate wiped clean.

Similarly, in California, all counties were required to proactively expunge all cannabis convictions by the summer of 2020, after the state legalised weed back in 2016. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego then set about clearing criminal records on a massive scale, aided by the non-profit organisation Code for America, which developed a piece of software that allowed legislators to rapidly identify records that were eligible for expungement.

By Ben Taub… Seedsman
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