The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has announced they are expunging nearly 1,900 low-level cannabis convictions.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally filed a petition on Monday to vacate and expunge certain cannabis convictions following the newly created Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which was signed into law in June by Governor JB Pritzker.
The Act, which not only legalizes recreational cannabis use and sales, compels the Illinois State Police, Prisoner Review Board, and Illinois Attorney General to identify and expunge certain cannabis offense records, arrests, charges and convictions.
These expungements will be automatic for misdemeanors while the Illinois State’s Attorney’s Offices has the option to object to the felony offenses.
A provision in the newly modified expungement statute gives the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office authority to expedite the expungement process by filing a motion to vacate and expunge eligible offenses.
“While the statute gives authority to expunge class 4 felony and misdemeanor cannabis delivery offenses, Kenneally will only be filing a motion to vacate and expunge simple cannabis possession misdemeanors that are not associated with felony charges or offenses outlined by the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act,” the state’s attorney’s office said in a statement.
In total, McHenry County will be seeking to vacate and expunge 1,877 low-level misdemeanor convictions.
Kenneally considers most of the provisions of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, especially those pertaining to the legalization and commercialization of marijuana, to be “deeply flawed and unwarranted, a serious public health risk, and a safety risk.”
Kenneally added that he believes the legalization of marijuana will result in more deaths on roadways.
“We do not necessarily object to expunging a defendant’s minor criminal convictions after a reasonable period of time. Moreover, we regard it as our duty to zealously enforce and effectuate the purposes of the duly enacted laws of Illinois irrespective of our own reservations and those of law enforcement more broadly,” Kenneally said in a statement.
The motion was filed with the McHenry County Circuit Court and assigned to Chief Judge James Cowlin, who signed an order and allowed the expungements. All defendants who have had their offenses expunged will be notified by mail by the McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s Office.