ROCKFORD (WTVO) – With the stroke of a pen, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Within the law is a chance for those that have been convicted of possession to have their slate wiped clean. There’s over 700,000 people in Illinois that could have their possession charge removed, a charge that many criminal defense attorneys deal with every day.
“Often. Almost every single day there is someone charged with it,” Elder Granger II, Defense Attorney at Granger, Cohen, & Donahue said.
Granger says cannabis charges affect many of his clients, but that won’t be the case come January 1st, when Illinois’ Legal Recreational Marijuana law goes into effect.
“Being a felon is one of the most restricting things in terms of your livelihood. It affects where you can live, affects your ability to get jobs, get schooling to get scholarships, to just progress in life,” Granger said. Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said, “Today we’re giving hundreds of thousands of people the chance at a better life.”
Pritzker inked the bill into law Tuesday, making it legal for people 21 and older to carry up to an ounce of marijuana. The new law also means 700,000 people with a record for possession of marijuana could have their records expunged.
“We’ve already started, because we have a database of all our clients, started to reach out to them to let them know the law has changed,” Granger explained. “We can then go ahead and take care of expungements for you and get that completed and your record clear.”
“No one with a violent crime conviction will be eligible for those expungements or those pardons,” Gov. Pritzker added.
It’s still not clear how police will enforce recreational marijuana, but law enforcement will benefit from cannabis tax revenues.
“We put 8% of the revenue from the cannabis out to law enforcement, distribute it through the local government distributive law fund at the request of law enforcement to do it that way. So that it will hit every part of the state, so they can invest in drug recognition experts, and in road side testing,” Illinois State Senator Heather Steans said.
Police in other states that have legalized recreational marijuana use road side swab tests to enforce DUI laws. Illinois leaders say the state could follow suit.