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Illinois governor pardons 11,000 pot convictions ahead of Jan. 1 legalization

JB Pritzker, governor of the state of Illinois
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker on Dec. 3, 2018. Photo: Paul Natkin/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker granted more than 11,000 pardons on Tuesday for minor, non-violent marijuana offenses, as the state prepares to legalize the drug on Jan. 1, AP reports.

The big picture: Illinois on Wednesday will become the 11th state to allow people 21 or older to buy and consume marijuana. State officials estimate that 116,000 people who were convicted for possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana are eligible for pardons.

  • Illinois lawmakers hope legalizing marijuana and pardoning past violators will reverse some of the damage caused by the war on drugs, especially for minority communities.

What they're saying: “We are ending the 50-year-long war on cannabis,” Pritzker said in a statement, according to AP.

  • “We are restoring rights to many tens of thousands of Illinoisans. We are bringing regulation and safety to a previously unsafe and illegal market. And we are creating a new industry that puts equity at its very core.”

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