IEJF Launches New Leaf Illinois to Help Clear Cannabis Convictions
The Illinois Equal Justice Foundation (IEJF) recently announced the launch of New Leaf Illinois, an alliance of 20 organizations to provide free legal and advisory services to help people wipe clean their marijuana convictions. The new resource was made possible by specific funding requirements of the 2019 Illinois cannabis legalization law.
“Communities of color have borne the impact of the discriminatory enforcement of the four-decade long war on drugs,” said Gray Mateo-Harris, IEJF board member and partner at Fox Rothschild LLP. “While people of all races illegally grew, smoked and sold marijuana, it was Black and brown people who were much more likely to be arrested and incarcerated for it.”
Right now, more than 71,000 Illinoisans are eligible for cannabis record expungement if they can navigate through a complicated court process. New Leaf Illinois will help people determine their eligibility for relief through an online portal www.newleafillinois.org. Legal aid organizations within the New Leaf Illinois Network will provide free services to income-level qualifying individuals in every region in Illinois.
“At the heart of our cannabis legalization effort was the concept of a three-legged stool—representing restoration, reinvestment and inclusion,” said Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-14), one of the lead sponsors of the 2019 cannabis legalization legislation. “Expungement for those with previous cannabis records is a key element of this new path forward. And today, the New Leaf Illinois program is helping to embody these principles by working to restore communities who’ve been hit hardest by the war on drugs, reinvest in individuals who continue to be unfairly punished by past convictions, and include everyone, especially those who have been historically marginalized and shut out.”