In what is a major victory for the millions of Illinois residents, Governor J.B. Pritzker came through on one of his election promises and legalized recreational marijuana.
The legalization of marijuana has been long awaited in Illinois, and now, residents of Illinois are free to use, grow, transport marijuana, and own businesses that pertain to the plant.
Governor Pritzker fulfilled one of his biggest election promises as this will affect over 800,000 Illinois residents who have records because of using cannabis. Some weren’t able to find decent jobs because of this issue for decades.
“The war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said. “Law enforcement across the nation has spent billions of dollars to enforce the criminalization of cannabis, yet its consumption remains widespread.”
Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, however, it is the first state where the House of Representatives passed a cannabis bill which will allow commercial sales once it is passed.
The only other state where legislation was passed instead of legalizing cannabis via a state ballot was Vermont, and commercial sales of cannabis are not legal in Vermont.
A new set of rules
The new cannabis law will also bring a new set of rules, according to which the residents in Illinois will be allowed to buy and possess:
- Up to 30 grams of cannabis
- Up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrates
- Edibles with THC content no higher than 500 mg
Those who aren’t Illinois residents will be permitted only half of the above-mentioned amounts.
A provision which would have allowed every resident to grow up to 5 plants was removed. Instead, only authorized medical patients will be allowed to grow 5 plants in house conditions, something they weren’t allowed before this bill was passed.
This law will also pardon all those who were unlucky enough in the past to get cited with nonviolent convictions for amounts of cannabis up to 30 grams, although lawyers can petition the courts to vacate convictions for possession of up to 500 grams.
“Signing this bill into law won’t undo the injustices of the past or make whole the lives that were interrupted. We can’t turn the clock back — but we can turn the page,” Pritzker said.
According to Rep. Kelly Cassidy, the existing 55 medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell recreational marijuana, as well as be authorized to open a second store which means that there might be 110 stores in the first wave.
The state will tax cannabis as follows:
- 10% tax on cannabis products with a 35% THC or lower
- 20% tax on all cannabis-infused products
- 25% tax on cannabis with a THC level above 35%
While campaigning, Pritzker said that the state’s cannabis industry could collect up to a billion dollars in taxes, however, this number was later reigned back in the Assembly by the co-sponsors of the bill Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans.
The money collected from taxing future cannabis businesses will go towards a grant called the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program, which helps communities affected by the War on Drugs.
The law will go into effect as of January 1st, 2020.