IEJF Awards $1.46M in Cannabis Expungement Grants to Promote Social Justice
The IEJF recently awarded $1.46M in grants to 22 legal aid organizations across Illinois, with the goal of launching a statewide Cannabis Expungement Network later this year. Through the Network, grantee organizations will educate people with past cannabis convictions about available legal assistance, determine their eligibility for relief, and then represent individuals requiring a petition and appearance before the courts.
“Tens of thousands of Illinois residents are now eligible to have past cannabis convictions expunged from their records, but many don’t have the tools or know-how to go about it,” said Kendric Cobb, IEJF Board Secretary. “We’re excited to work with these grantee organizations to help people get their records cleared, and to begin to repair the harm done to communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis arrests and convictions.”
Studies shows that clearing past criminal convictions can remove major barriers to employment, and housing, and boost individuals’ earnings and feelings of self-worth.
“Expungement is more than a second chance; it is a lifeline. Illinois residents who were unfairly targeted by discriminatory drug laws will be able to finally get ahead and build a new future for themselves and their families, which is a guiding principle of the equity work we must do” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Cannabis Control. “These grants bring us a major step closer to changing thousands of lives across our state.”
Funding for the Cannabis Expungement Grant program was made possible by the passage of the historic Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act in 2019 by the Illinois General Assembly. The Act was a national model for its focus on addressing the past effects of the war on drugs and the communities most impacted by these failed policies.
Click here for the full Cannabis Expungement grants list. The IEJF will launch the Illinois Cannabis Expungement Network later this year.