Have a cannabis conviction in Illinois? You may be eligible for expungement. 

By Arturo Hernandez, Senior Attorney 

By now, many people are probably aware that recreational cannabis use is legal in Illinois. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA) legalized the use of recreational cannabis beginning January 1, 2020. The Act also established new ways for people with cannabis-related records to clear their records and work in the cannabis industry.  

New Leaf Illinois logo with quote from client: "I was so apprehensive about my future because of my legal record. But after talking with New Leaf, I got the info and motivation to move forward	 and put it behind me.” – New Leaf Client.

Cannabis Expungement 

The Law Project of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless provides free legal representation to those wishing to expunge their records as a proud partner in New Leaf Illinois.   

New Leaf Illinois is a statewide network of legal aid organizations that provide services to assist individuals with expunging their cannabis records and other legal services.  

For questions about expunging cannabis records or to see if you may be eligible, visit the New Leaf Illinois website or call the New Leaf Illinois hotline at (855) 963-9532.

Other legal questions? The Law Project can be reached weekdays on its toll-free helpline: 1 (800) 940-1119.

Limitations and Restrictions for Use 

Although the use of recreational cannabis is legal in Illinois, there are important limitations.  

  • Cannabis use is only legal for adults 21 years of age or older.  
  • There are limits on the quantity that is legal to possess: Illinois residents may possess up to 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrate, or 500 milligrams of cannabis infused products (such as edibles).  
  • It is still illegal to use cannabis in public such as at parks, on a bus or train, in a car, or around minors. A person can have cannabis in their car, but only if it’s in a secured, sealed container that cannot be reached while the car is moving. Driving under the influence of cannabis is also not permitted. 
  • You may use marijuana in housing so long as it is permitted by the landlord, however private property owners are allowed to ban use (not possession) on their premises. Also, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, so use or possession in federally subsidized housing is still not allowed. 
  • Only stores licensed by the state are allowed to sell marijuana and infused products. Sales by individuals are still illegal. 

The Law Project’s brochure on Illinois Marijuana Legalization is available here  

Working in the Cannabis Industry 

The CRTA also established a program that allows some community colleges in Illinois to provide career training to people interested in working in this industry.  

In Chicago, Olive-Harvey College offers college credit and continuing education courses for people interested in pursuing a career in this industry. For college credit, students can obtain a Cannabis Dispensary Operations Basic Certificate. For continuing education, students can obtain a Cannabis Processing Technician Certification.  

For more information, visit https://pages.ccc.edu/apply/cannabis/