“Young people who have cannabis-related convictions on their records should not be blocked from jobs and educational opportunities when adults throughout the state are now able to legally purchase cannabis,” said Tarver. “With the state’s legalization of cannabis now in effect, it is essential that we continue to work so that communities that have been negatively affected by the war on drugs are given a second chance to thrive, and that starts with making sure that young people, especially young black and brown men, are given the opportunity to get these offenses taken off their records.”
Tarver recently introduced House Bill 4009 to create a process for automatic expungement of records for youth that have a cannabis-related conviction. Adults over the age of 21 are now able to purchase and possess cannabis, and adults with certain cannabis crimes on their records are eligible for automatic expungement. While Tarver supported the legalization of recreational cannabis, he is still committed to working so that those most affected by the criminalization of the drug are given further opportunities to thrive.
Recently, African-American leaders on the Chicago City Council have expressed concerns that people of color are still not seeing the full benefit of cannabis legalization, specifically related to the lack of black and brown business owners. Prior to becoming state representative, Tarver fought to advocate for individuals who were discriminated against because of their skin color, gender or sexual orientation. He knows that for true equity to exist, the current law needs to be expanded to youth who have been convicted of cannabis possession.
“For decades, young people of color have been unduly convicted of possessing cannabis, resulting in disinvestment and increased crime in minority communities,” said Tarver. “We have a responsibility to these youth to develop solutions that allow them to be successful, and eliminating barriers like a criminal record for something that is no longer a crime is one important step that we can take.”