Tens of thousands of low-level cannabis arrests are soon to expunged in two of the nation’s biggest cities. New cannabis laws in Illinois and New York are bringing with them efforts to undo some of the damage done by the drug war in the Windy City and the Big Apple.

Illinoisans are about to live in a weed-legal state. On January 1, the state will become the 11th in the union to allow for legal recreational cannabis. The new law of the land will also allow for the expunging of old cannabis arrests.

With the consulting organization Code for America, the state will expunge tens of thousands of cannabis arrests, according to the Associated Press. Code for America’s “Clear My Record” program is already being used in four California counties.

“It is prosecutors who have to be at the table to ensure that we’re righting the wrongs of the past,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“Conviction relief is not only a critical part of righting the wrongs on the war on drugs, it is a recommitment and a statement of our values, that a low-level marijuana conviction does not mean that someone is a threat to public safety.”

Meanwhile, New York state is not messing around either when it comes to expunging old marijuana crimes. Beginning on Wednesday, the state will automatically expunge tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands of criminal records, as reported by the New York Post.

The move is part of New York’s new cannabis decriminalization law, which will make cannabis possession under 2 ounces a violation instead of a criminal offense, punishable by a maximum $200 fine.

Photo via Flickr user Erik Leutscher

Natalie