As of January 1, 2020 recreational weed is legal in Illinois. Even better, the state’s recreational retail system also went into full effect that day. Now, it’s possible to purchase and possess weed in the state.
On the first day of legal sales, shops saw significant demand. That included long lines of consumers excited to be among the first to make legal purchases. And in some cases, those lines included high profile people. Most notably, the state’s Lieutenant Governor was there to make a purchase of her own.
Long Lines for First Day of Weed Sales
According to local news source KTLA, there were long lines at dispensaries before shops even opened their doors. Specifically, many places had lines so long it took roughly three hours before consumers could actually enter a shop and make a purchase.
The first legal purchase in Illinois was made by a man named Renzo Mejia.
“To be able to have here is just mind-boggling,” he told local media.
Mejia was one of about 500 people lined up outside a Chicago dispensary hours before the shop opened its doors. Interestingly, Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton was also among consumers eagerly waiting in line. Per local media reports, she purchased gummies from a Chicago dispensary.
“I’m here to celebrate a big day in Illinois,” Stratton said of her purchase.
Throughout the day of Jan. 1 lines got shorter and shorter, as shops filled people’s orders and consumers made their purchases. From the sounds of things, there were no significant product shortages, as has happened in other places that have legalized weed.
Illinois’ Legal Weed Laws
Under Illinois’ new weed laws, adults 21 and older can purchase, possess, and consume recreational weed. Specifically, they can possess up to 30 grams of weed at any time. Additionally, consumers can have up to five grams of concentrates. It still illegal to consume weed in public.
As for the business side of the industry, the state has licensed 16 cultivation centers. Additionally, there have been almost 36 dispensaries licensed to sell products.
Authorities predict that recreational weed in Illinois could generate as much $250 million in sales by 2022.
Importantly, legalization in Illinois is not only about being able to purchase, possess, and consume weed. The state also included some efforts to address social harms caused by previous prohibition laws.
Specifically, the new laws allow for people arrested or convicted of certain weed related charges to have their records expunged. And as soon as legal sales began, state lawmakers moved to begin the expungement process.
According to the Associated Press, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker has already granted more than 11,000 pardons for low-level marijuana offenses. Now that Pritzker has issued the pardons, they will move on to the state attorney general, where those records can officially be cleared or sealed.
Officials said there are roughly 116,000 convictions that are eligible for pardons. Additionally, there are another 34,000 records that are eligible for a different process in which individuals must file court petitions to get their records cleared.
Even more, the AP reports that law enforcement agencies have five years to expunge records for people who were arrested but not convicted of low level marijuana charges. There are an estimated 572,000 arrest records that would qualify for this process.