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In 11th State to Legalize Pot, a Bonus for 770K

It's not only OK to smoke marijuana recreationally in Illinois—pot convictions will also be expunged
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 28, 2019 10:09 AM CDT
Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill Tuesday that legalizes adult-use cannabis in the state of Illinois at Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center in Chicago.   (AP Photo/Amr Alfiky)

(Newser) – On Tuesday, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for those 21 and over, and the bill makes another big move within its 610 pages. CNN reports that, thanks to HB 1438, about 770,000 state residents with convictions involving pot will be able to have their records expunged. The Marijuana Policy Project notes that automatic clemency will be doled out to those who were convicted for possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana; those convicted for between 30 and 500 grams are still eligible for clemency, but they'll have to go through the motions of petitioning the court.

For the purposes of the bill, "expunge" means to "physically destroy the records or return them to the petitioner and to obliterate the petitioner's name from any official index or public record," though CNN notes circuit court records aren't required to be physically destroyed. Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times reports the new law also includes an exemption for the Smoke-Free Illinois Act that bans smoking in most public places, meaning if local authorities give the OK, marijuana (not tobacco) could be smoked in restaurants, bars, and even pot-friendly movie theaters and concert venues. The bill goes into effect Jan. 1. (Read more marijuana stories.)

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