New initiative launched to help Illinoisans expunge marijuana arrests, convictions

A new state-funded initiative called New Leaf Illinois aims to connect Illinoisans who want to remove marijuana arrests or convictions from their records with 20 nonprofit organizations that provide free legal representation and information on expungements.

New Leaf Illinois was launched Thursday by the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, an organization created by a 1999 state law to distribute funding appropriated by the government to support nonprofit legal aid programs and initiatives. IEJF administers state appropriations to three programs – a broad legal aid grant program, a legal aid service for veterans, and, most recently, a marijuana offense expungement program.

As part of the 2019 Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act – the law that legalized marijuana for recreational use – arrests and convictions for certain marijuana offenses are eligible for expungement. Arrests and minor offenses are eligible for automatic expungement, while some convictions require a petition be filed in court.

The 2019 law also set aside a portion of the tax revenue generated from the legal sale of marijuana that must be put toward the expungement process. Through the IEJF, a portion of these funds are given as grants to New Leaf organizations to provide legal services.

Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales has also been earmarked for other services, like the R3 community investment…

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