As 2020 started last week, Illinois' new law legalizing marijuana went into effect. Illinois became the 11th state in the U.S. to make marijuana legal for recreational use, and the first one to do so via legislation rather than a ballot initiative. On Dec. 31, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced that he was issuing 11,017 pardons to people with low-level marijuana convictions. Vaidya Gullapalli, writing for The Appeal, states that these pardons by the Illinois governor "are a reminder of the scale of marijuana arrests," which target Black people and Latinos in a much larger proportion than the rest of the population. Since the "war on drugs" began in the 1970s, the U.S. has incarcerated a larger proportion of their population than any other developed nation in the world. Illinois offers a snapshot of the magnitude of this problem, as The Appeal reports: "All told, state officials estimate that a total of 116,000 convictions involving 30 grams or less of marijuana are eligible for pardons under the new law, reported CBS News. The process is not automatic, but state officials have sought to make it as close to automatic as possible. There are also an estimated 572,000 marijuana arrests that will be expunged over the next five years. People may also apply for expungements of convictions for marijuana possession over 30 grams, putting the total number of possible pardons at over 700,000."

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