Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has started the new year by making a major change throughout the state. Pritzker has expunged nearly 50,000 marijuana-related convictions. His latest move comes after legalizing in 2020 and paving the way for nearly 800,000 more marijuana-related convictions to be expunged moving forward.
"We reached this milestone one year into what will be an ongoing effort to correct historic wrongdoings fueled by the war on drugs," Prtizker tweeted.
Prtizker's latest legislative act will have a positive impact on Black residents throughout the state. Before marijuana was legalized in Illinois, Black residents were seven times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white residents. Nationwide, Black Americans are nearly four times as likely as white Americans to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses.
“The legacy of rank bias in how we enforced cannabis laws in Illinois is clear,” Ben Ruddle of the ACLU Illinois said.
“We should redouble our efforts to ensure that this sort of racially disproportionate policing does not continue under the new state law, especially in those parts of the state where the track record is so abysmal.”
Moving forward, Prtizker hopes that these changes can set a new precedent moving forward.
"We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of the damage in communities of color, who have disproportionately shouldered this burden," the governor said.
"But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past — and the decency to set a better path forward."
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