Too Few People Are Taking Advantage of Free, State-Funded Program

(CHICAGO)…. In advance of the 420 Cannabis holiday, leaders from New Leaf Illinois are urging people with old cannabis arrests and convictions to start the expungement process. New Leaf Illinois, the State of Illinois-funded cannabis expungement program, provides free legal services and information to Illinoisans who want to clear old cannabis convictions off their record. People can call (855) 963-9532 or visit newleafillinois.org to get started and connect with a legal aid professional.

“We think many people may not be going through the expungement process because they assume it takes too long, or they mistakenly think their records were automatically cleared,” said Beth Johnson, New Leaf Illinois program manager. “You don’t want to be in a position of applying for a job, or trying to rent an apartment and find out that a cannabis arrest is still on your record. That’s why it’s so important to check your eligibility for relief through New Leaf Illinois.”

While more than 80,000 Illinois residents may be eligible for expungement of their cannabis convictions, only 4,000 Illinoisans have registered through New Leaf Illinois.

To help encourage more Illinoisans to take advantage of the program, New Leaf is dispelling three common myths about the cannabis expungement process.

MYTHS vs. FACTS about Cannabis Expungement

MYTH: The cannabis expungement process takes years.

FACT: The process typically takes four to six months. Once you file a petition to clear (expunge) your cannabis record, it usually takes the court about 75-90 days to make a decision on your petition. If your petition is granted, it typically then takes about 90 days for your record to be cleared from court and law enforcement records.


MYTH: You have to go back to court to expunge your cannabis record.

FACT: Many counties are still handling expungement cases via a Zoom hearing.


MYTH: All cannabis records were automatically expunged once cannabis was legalized in Illinois.

FACT: While different “automatic” expungement processes have taken place, they have not covered all cannabis records, with many still requiring affirmative or additional steps. For example, while the Illinois State Police expunged 780,000 cannabis arrests from its database, those cases were not expunged from the court system and still require petitions to be filed with the court to complete the process.


Similarly, Governor Pritzker pardoned approximately 11,500 people with minor marijuana convictions and the Cook County State’s Attorneys office filed to vacate and expunge approximately 24,000 minor cannabis records. However, there are approximately more than 80,000 people who still have cannabis convictions eligible for expungement statewide. If people are confused whether or not their case was covered under any ‘automatic’ expungement processes, they should reach out to New Leaf Illinois.

New Leaf Illinois, funded by the State of Illinois, is a network of 16 nonprofit legal aid and community organizations around the state. The network is managed by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation.

For more information, please visit newleafillinois.org.

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Contact: Margarite Wypychowski

mwcommsconsulting@gmail.com or 773.458.8961