New bill may allow expungement of past marijuana convictions
Having a drug conviction on your record can negatively impact your life for years to come, even if it was a minor marijuana possession charge. If you have a low-level marijuana conviction on your record, a new Illinois bill may help you expunge your criminal record. Once your record is expunged, it will no longer be accessible to the public and you will be allowed to tell potential employers that your record is clean.
Assistant Majority Leader, Kimberly Lightford, recently promoted a bill that would expunge a minor marijuana possession conviction or guilty plea occurring before July 29,2016, if it has been at least three years since they completed their sentence. While lawmakers decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana in 2016, the change did not benefit people that were already convicted of minor marijuana possession.
According to La Shawn Ford, the State Representative that first sponsored the bill, expunging these minor convictions will allow people to become more employable. She also believes that this will bring some fairness to the system, as studies have shown that African-Americans are more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than other racial groups.
The bill must be passed through the Senate and brought in front of Governor Rauner next month. If this doesn’t happen, the process will have to start again in the 101st General Assembly.
While the state is working to make these changes, minor convictions and are currently preventing many people from working and living normal lives. For more information on how to get your record expunged, contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney.