Efforts Underway to Expunge Cannabis Possession Cases In Illinois

Now that cannabis is legal for adult-use in Illinois, steps are being taken in Will County to clear low-level possession cases.

Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow and Will County Chief Judge Richard Schoenstedt last week announced a joint effort between the State’s Attorney’s Office and the Will County Twelfth Judicial Circuit to vacate and expunge cannabis cases that became eligible for automatic expungement under the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020.

Will County Circuit Court Clerk Andrea Lynn Chasteen will also assist with the joint effort.

“Our motion will expedite the process created under state statute, assist our law enforcement community, and provide certainty early on to individuals who may be unsure about the status of their prior low-level cannabis possession cases,” says Glasgow. “Having written Will County’s original Drug Court grant way back in 1998, I have always believed that those who are victims of drug abuse must be treated in a fair, just, and compassionate manner.”

Glasgow says that the motion will allow people to finally put the convictions behind them forever and move on with their lives.

The state’s new adult-use cannabis statute provides for the automatic expungement of cases involving less than 30 grams of cannabis while requiring the Illinois State Police Prisoner Review Board to identify and expunge eligible low-level cannabis offense charges, arrests, records, and convictions according to a set schedule:

· January 1, 2021, for offenses occurring between January 1, 2013, and January 1, 2020
· January 1, 2023, for offenses occurring between January 1, 2000, and January 1, 2013
· January 1, 2025, for offenses occurring before January 1, 2000

Glasgow and Schoenstedt have agreed to motion to vacate and expunge low-level cannabis cases under a provision in state law that grants authority to the State’s Attorneys to file a motion to expedite the expungement process.

With a nod to the importance of restorative justice, Judge Schoenstedt says that streamlining the process for people who have been unsure if their records would ever be expunged serves everyone, including the judicial system, law enforcement, and the individuals who are eligible to have their cases expunged.

“We recognize the importance of restorative justice in Will County,” says Judge Schoenstedt. “And this joint effort is one example of working cooperatively in our community to assist those who need it most.”

While state law allows for the expungement of Class 4 felonies and misdemeanor cannabis delivery offenses, Glasgow will only be filing to vacate and expunge lower-level marijuana possession cases not associated with felony charges or offenses as defined by the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act.

Glasgow plans to file a motion in March for low-level cannabis possession cases from January 1, 2013, through January 1, 2020, which Judge Schoenstedt has agreed to sign and approve.

Once Glasgow has filed the motion to vacate and received approval, the Will County Circuit Clerk’s Office will notify all defendants by mail.