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Recent News

A new leaf: Legal assistance to expunge pot convictions goes unused across Illinois

Chicago Sun-Times - April 19th, 2023

Three years after pot was legalized, legal aid groups have been surprised by the small number of residents seeking out help clearing marijuana arrests from their records.


Celebrate 4/20 By Expunging Your Past Cannabis Records

- April 11th, 2023

Free legal resources available to help make a clean slate possible

CHICAGO – (April 11, 2023) – With April 20th, otherwise known and celebrated as 4/20, around the corner, those with prior cannabis arrests or convictions should take the time to find out how they can expunge their records. Just because cannabis is legal now, doesn’t mean all past cannabis arrest and conviction records went away. They can still be accessed by potential employers, landlords, educators, and government agencies making it difficult for people to seek new opportunities.

Here are the top 5 ways an old record can cause you problems:

  1. A potential employer can see convictions and certain arrests on a background check.
  2. Criminal records can be reviewed by universities and other schools and can lead to a denial of entry.
  3. Private landlords can refuse to rent housing to persons with criminal convictions.
  4. Illinois occupational licensing agencies can consider criminal records in granting or denying licensure for certain professions.
  5. A criminal record can prevent you from obtaining a loan.

The good news is there are free and easy resources people can access to get support in clearing past cannabis records.  New Leaf Illinois is a state-funded network of 18 nonprofit legal aid and advocacy organizations dedicated to clearing past cannabis arrests and convictions for free. New Leaf was established to correct the state’s unequally enforced old drug laws which disproportionately targeted communities of color.

“Cannabis expungement allows individuals to take control of their future and opens doors to higher education, better jobs and housing,” said Beth Johnson, New Leaf Project Manager.

New Leaf Illinois helps people determine their eligibility for relief through an easy-to-use online registration portal or via phone at (855) 963-9532. Legal aid organizations within the New Leaf Illinois network provide free services in every region in Illinois.

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The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF), a 501 c 3 tax exempt organization, funds civil legal aid programs across Illinois to champion the rights of people burdened by access to justice. The IEJF envisions and strives for equitable access to and navigation of the Illinois civil legal system.

IEJF In the News >> Videos

- April 11th, 2023

25 News at 6:00 AM

WEEK, 4.11.23


13 News at 5:00 PM

WREX, 4.11.23


News at 5pm

WPSD, 4.11.23


NBC 5 News at 5:00 PM

WMAQ, 4.11.23


News 4 At 5:00 PM

KMOV, 4.11.23


ABC 7 Eyewitness News at 6:00 PM

WLS, 4.11.23


Local 4 News at 6 PM

WHBF, 4.11.23


WGN Evening News

WGN, 4.11.23


Fox 18 News at 9

KLJB, 4.11.23


13 News Today at 5:00 AM

WREX, 4.12.23


News at 5am

WPSD, 4.12.23


WAND News Daybreak at 5:00 AM

WAND, 4.12.23


Good Morning Region 8 at 6 AM

KAIT, 4.12.23


State-funded organization continues to conduct cannabis expungements

The Center Square - April 12th, 2023

Three years has passed since marijuana was legalized in Illinois. Part of the law was to forgive minor cannabis crimes. With the support of state funding, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) created New Leaf Illinois, a network of legal aid organizations providing free or low-cost legal support around the state. “The main reason we set up New Leaf the way we did when we launched in November of 2020 was the hardest part for folks is knowing where to start in the process,” said Beth Johnson, IEJF project manager with New Leaf. New Leaf provides a form for interested persons with past marijuana convictions. If a person qualifies, their record will go to the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, who then can recommend that the governor grant a pardon authorizing expungement. If the governor agrees, the Illinois attorney general then files a petition in the county of conviction to have the record expunged.


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