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Illinois officials announced Thursday that nearly half a million cannabis arrest records have been expunged by state police.

Four years ahead of the deadline set in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said 492,129 non-felony cannabis arrest records have been expunged by Illinois State Police.

Pritzker added that he issued pardons for 9,219 low-level cannabis conviction records for a total of 20,000 cannabis convictions pardoned since the CRTA was signed in 2019.

“Statewide, Illinoisans hold hundreds of thousands low-level cannabis-related records, a burden disproportionately shouldered by communities of color,” Pritzker said. “We will never be able to fully remedy the depth of that damage. But we can govern with the courage to admit the mistakes of our past—and the decency to set a better path forward.”

The CRTA would expunge all cannabis-related arrest records by Jan. 1, 2025 automatically. By Jan. 2021, the Act required 47,000 records be expunged, but the state has addressed nearly half a million.

Though expungement has been completed at the state level, officials said county clerks are still processing expungements at the local level. Thus far, DuPage, Kane, Knox, Lake, McHenry, McLean, Peoria, Rock Island, Will and Winnebago counties have expunged records at the local level.

“As we near the end of the first year of Illinois’ new legal cannabis industry, I am heartened by the progress we have made towards undoing the harms dealt by the failed war on drugs. Eleven states in the nation have legalized cannabis for recreational use, but no other state has done the important work we’re doing here in Illinois, where equity intentionality takes center stage,” said Toi Hutchinson, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Cannabis Control.

Officials reminded that under state law, 25% of revenues collected from recreational marijuana sales will be directed to communities that have been “disproportionately impacted by the justice system through the Restore, Reinvest and Renew Program”

Within the coming weeks, the program will grant over $25 million in funding to organizations working in historically undeserved Illinois communities.

Jan. 1, 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Illinois, with sales totaling more $500,000,000.

Through November, total recreational marijuana sales in Illinois reached $582,266,511.85, according to the Department of Revenue, with 12,588,763 items sold.

According to the latest data, $432,947,054.76 worth of the sales were made by in-state residents.

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