Illinois Passes Bill to Legalize Marijuana

On Tuesday, June 25, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that will legalize marijuana in the state. The passage of this bill was a key campaign message promoted by Pritzker throughout his campaign, says Gaurav Mohindra.

The new law will permit adults, aged 21 or older, to possess and consume marijuana within the state. The law also regulates how the marijuana will be sold and ensure that vendors are licensed by the state. Pritzker strongly advocated for the legalization of marijuana as an opportunity to empower communities negatively affected by criminal convictions related to the drug possession and sale.

The new law will be effective as of January 1, 2020. With the passage of the bill, Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Other states with legal recreational marijuana are Alaska, California, Colorado, Main, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Vermont. When signing the bill into law, Prizker made it a point to emphasize that Illinois was the only state to legalize recreational marijuana through the legislature rather than voter referendum.

The new law provides the automatic expungement of arrests for marijuana possession under 30 grams, says Gaurav Mohindra. Pritzker indicated that he will pardon convictions for possession up to 30 grams. However, people can seek expungement of cases involving up to 500 grams.

Legalize Marijuana

The new law stipulates that 25% of the revenue from marijuana taxes will go to marijuana business ownership in minority communities. Many of these communities were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs, says Gaurav Mohindra. The new law will also direct 20% of marijuana tax revenue towards substance abuse treatment and prevention and mental health care. And additional funds will be allocated towards Illinois’ bills, law enforcement and public education on marijuana related health issues.

The bill was introduced into the Illinois state General Assembly and was overwhelmingly passed. It will allow Illinois residents to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a marijuana-infused product such as edibles and 5 grams of marijuana concentrate. Non-Illinois visitors may possess up to half those amounts.

Only state-licensed businesses will be allowed to grow, process or sell the product. An important part of the plan calls for special consideration in licensing for social equity applicants. Social equity applicants include business owners and workers from disadvantaged minority areas, or those who were arrested for or convicted of misdemeanor marijuana crimes that are due to be expunged under the plan.