Champaign circuit clerk among those working on potential issues with legal pot

URBANA — Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman is working behind the scenes to prepare for what's coming when and if recreational cannabis for adults is legalized in Illinois.

That legislation could be introduced as soon as next week.

"I am the co-chair of the legislative committee of the Illinois Association of Court Clerks," said Blakeman, the elected keeper of Champaign County court records since 2012.

That organization has been working for the last several years "to get a seat at the table on legislation that affects the courts" before it's enacted.

Someone must have heard them.

Blakeman has been part of a working group convened by Deputy Governor Christian Mitchell and bill co-sponsors Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, that's been meeting for about three months.

The group is brainstorming how to deal with issues that will come up when legalized cannabis rolls out.

Those include equity and finance, public education and awareness, record expungement and criminal justice, home growing, licensing and market size, tax structure, and revenue allocation.

Blakeman has been serving on the expungement and criminal-justice working group. For the last few years, her office has hosted expungement seminars in Urbana to help people convicted of crimes navigate the court system to rid themselves of their unpleasant history.

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