Almost a year after Illinois launched its legal cannabis market, Gov. JB Pritzker announced that the state had pardoned and expunged the records of more than 500,000 people with cannabis-related offenses. This comes shortly after he pardoned more than 11,000 people with marijuana-related crimes. Making the announcement on the last day of the year, Pritzker said that clearing these records is part of an ongoing effort to correct the damage done by the decades-long war on drugs.
The war on drugs, which has been termed a failed policy, was particularly hard on communities of color. According to Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Straton, a Black person is four times more likely than a white person to be arrested for cannabis possession, despite equal use between both groups. In a press release, Pritzker said that the state still holds hundreds of thousands of marijuana-related records, with communities of color bearing a disproportionate amount of that load.
Like most state-level cannabis legalization bills, Illinois’ cannabis bill includes restorative justice components that ensure such communities receive reparations for decades of over-policing, including expungement of nonfelony, cannabis-related offenses. With this new round of pardons, Illinois is now four years ahead of schedule in its timeline to clear all records of minor cannabis-related offenses. On top of the 492,129 expungements announced so far, Pritzker issued 9,219 gubernatorial pardons with the Illinois State Police lending a hand in the record-clearing process.
Despite acknowledging that it may be impossible to repair all the harms done by the war on drugs, Pritzker said this is the first step in admitting past mistakes and charting a better path forward. He applauded the Prison Review Board, the Illinois State Police and other partners across the state for helping make the expungements and pardons a reality.
The press release stated that the expungement process was already complete at the state level, but county clerks at the local level were still processing expungements. Officials in DuPage, Kanem Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will and Winnebago counties were already processing expungements, with the rest of the counties granted until Jan. 1, 2025, to complete the process.
With Illinois enjoying record-breaking cannabis sales, the state has been able to direct millions of dollars towards social equity programs. An estimated 25% of tax revenue collected from cannabis sales is used for restorative justice grants. Additionally, the state announced in May 2020 that it would avail $31.5 million in restorative grants to communities impacted by the war on drugs.
Meanwhile, lots of companies are benefitting from the current boom of cannabis and its derivatives. A clear example is The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER). The company has unveiled A88CBD, a line of products that are infused with the hugely popular cannabidiol (CBD).
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER) are available in the company’s newsroom at http://cnw.fm/WTER
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