What Does it Mean to Expunge a Marijuana Possession Conviction?

How to Expunge Marijuana Possession Convictions From Your Criminal Record in Illinois

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Video by Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Article written by Illinois Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
September 6, 2019

In this article, we explain how to expunge marijuana possession convictions from your criminal record in Illinois once the new law legalizing Marijuana in 2020 becomes effective.  We answer the questions: 

  • What does it mean to expunge a marijuana possession conviction?
  • What types of marijuana convictions are eligible for expungement in Illinois under the new law?
  • When can a marijuana possession conviction be expunged in Illinois?
  • How to expunge a conviction for marijuana possession in Illinois; and 
  • Should I hire an attorney to expunge my marijuana conviction?


To learn more about the new law legalizing marijuana in Illinois, check out our article: New Illinois Law Legalizing Marijuana in 2020: Frequently Asked Questions. 

What Does it Mean to Expunge a Marijuana Possession Conviction?

Expunging your criminal record means that records related to a particular criminal charge will be removed from public view and physically destroyed. An expunged criminal charge is not visible in background checks and employers are not permitted to consider an expunged charge when making hiring decisions. 

What Types of Marijuana Convictions Are Eligible for Expungement in Illinois Under the New Law?  

Under the new law some drug possession convictions will be automatically expunged. If you received a conviction for possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis and the conviction was not related to a more serious crime, your conviction is likely to be automatically pardoned and expunged from your record.  

If you have a conviction for possession of between 30 and 500 grams of cannabis or possession of drug paraphernalia, your conviction will not be automatically expunged, but, beginning in 2020, you will have the opportunity to affirmatively petition the court to expunge the conviction. 

When Can A Marijuana Possession Conviction Be Expunged In Illinois?

After January 1, 2020, you will be able to petition to expunge a marijuana possession conviction once three years have passed since your sentence has been completed.  

How to Expunge a Conviction for Marijuana Possession in Illinois

The first step in expunging a conviction for marijuana possession from your criminal record is to file a petition for expungement with the circuit court of the county that issued the conviction.  Expungement petition forms can be found on most county clerks’ websites.  You will generally be required to pay a fee to the clerk when you file the expungement petition.  

The Illinois State Police, the arresting agency, and the chief legal officer of the municipality that made the arrest will receive notice of your expungement petition and will have 60 days to file an objection to the expungement.  

If none of the above agencies object, the judge will generally enter an order granting the petition within 6 months.  Otherwise, the court will hold a hearing to determine whether to grant your petition. 

For more on this, check out our article: Illinois Expungement Explained. 

Should I Hire an Attorney to Expunge My Marijuana Conviction?

If there are any mistakes in your expungement petition, you will have to start the process over or your petition may simply be denied.  Because the expungement process can take 6 months, this delay may cause significant problems.  An attorney can ensure that the petition is filled out correctly the first time and give you the best opportunity for success.  Working with an attorney for your expungement is inexpensive and will save you significant time and effort in navigating the process.


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