Illinois Becomes 11th U.S. State to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

Illinois Becomes 11th U.S. State to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

The state of Illinois today finalized a bill to legalize cannabis. Bill HB 1438, which allows adults 21 and older to consume and posses cannabis, was approved in a bipartisan 66 to 47 vote. The only hurdle remaining is a signature from Governer JB Protzker. Gov. Pritzker has announced he intends to sign the bill.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.” Pritzker said.

With the governor’s signature, Illinois becomes the first state to create a commercial recreational marijuana industry through the legislature rather than by voter referendum.

The legalization will begin Jan 1, 2020 and would allow residents age 21 and older to legally possess 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents could possess 15 grams of cannabis.

Access to cannabis will come via a framework of licensed cultivators and retail dispensaries.

In addition individuals with criminal records related to possessing one ounce or less of cannabis all have their records wiped.

“Cannabis criminalization in Illinois is coming to an end. While this bill isn’t perfect, it does provide a pathway for adults to legally obtain and consume cannabis. It also expands access and rights for qualified medical patients. Importantly, the bill provides much needed relief to those most harmed by the legacy of prohibition and emphasizes giving those who have been most harmed by cannabis criminalization preference in establishing a foothold in this new industry,” said Illinois NORML Executive Director Dan Linn.

“We are confident that this is the best bill we could get through the legislature at this time, but are adamant that Illinois must enact additional protections in the future, in particular the right of adults to homegrown personal use amounts of cannabis,” he added.

Estimates on tax revenue for the state vary but a modest figure comes in at $57 million. Revenue would be disturbed accordingly: 35%, would go into the state’s general fund; 25% would go to community grants; 20% to mental health and substance abuse programs; 10% to pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills; 8% to support law enforcement; and 2% for public education.

With the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago in the throes of deep budget crises, this added revenue can’t come soon enough.

Beyond that, given that Illinois is the 5th most populous state in the country, with over 12 million people, access to such a large new market will no doubt stimulate the already exploding cannabis industry and the jobs associated with it.

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