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.