Illinois lawmakers officially filed legislation May 6 to legalize and regulate adult-use cannabis, and the bill outlines a set of robust expungement and social equity provisions, according to Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Senate Bill 7, introduced by Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), directs the state to undergo a very detailed process of identifying and expunging the records of those with qualifying cannabis-related offenses, which include possession of up to 30 grams, sale of up to 30 grams and cultivation of up to 20 plants. Should the legislation be signed into law, a court order will be issued to provide clerks of court and law enforcement agencies with specific instructions on expunging qualifying records.
“It’s going to probably take a little while because they’re going to have to do quite a bit of research and there are a lot of folks … who will be impacted,” Lindsey said. “It’s also going to be possible for people to initiate their own [expungement], if they want to make sure they can get their records cleaned up sooner rather than later. … It’s pretty remarkable.”
The bill also includes social equity provisions that provide benefits to those who have been directly impacted by the war on cannabis. An individual who has been arrested, charged with or convicted of an offense that will be expunged under the new law—or an individual whose family member has been arrested, charged or convicted—qualifies as an equity applicant in the adult-use cannabis business licensing process. Business hopefuls who reside in a part of the state that has been disproportionately impacted by the war on cannabis—through higher rates of poverty than the rest of the state or disproportionate arrests and convictions of cannabis-related offenses—will also qualify as equity applicants. These applicants, when forming a business