Today is set to be a momentous day in Illinois. That’s because the state’s governor, J.B. Pritzker just signed the Illinois recreational marijuana bill. The move makes Illinois the eleventh state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana.
Importantly, the new laws are also supposed to include several provisions to try and take into account issues surrounding the war on drugs, including class and race inequity.
Mayor Signs Bill
This morning, Gov. Pritzker’s signing ceremony was broadcast live by the Chicago Tribune.
Now that the governor signed the bill into law, the new rules are slated to go into full effect at the beginning of next year, on January 1, 2020. More specifically, that is the date on which recreational retail sales are supposed to begin.
The new cannabis laws will introduce the following key changes to the state’s rules:
- The state will be able to establish and implement a regulatory framework to support the retail sale of recreational marijuana.
- Adults 21 and over will be allowed to possess and consume weed for recreational purposes.
- Adults who are residents of Illinois can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower. Additionally, adults will also be be allowed to have cannabis-infused products with up to 500 milligrams of THC. This applies to things like edibles and drinkables. And finally, adults can also have up to five grams of cannabis concentrate.
- Non-resident adults in the state will also be allowed to purchase marijuana. But they will be limited to half the amount of whatever residents will be allowed to own.
- Marijuana sales will be taxed. Specifically, products with up to 35 percent THC will be taxed at 10 percent. Cannabis-infused products will be taxed at 20 percent. And products with more than 35 percent THC will be taxed at 25 percent. Those taxes are in addition to any local sales taxes. The state estimates upwards of $500 million per year in weed taxes.
- And finally, licensed medical marijuana patients in Illinois can grow up to five cannabis plants at home.
Attempting to Address Social Issues
For many involved in getting this legislation passed, the most important aspects of the bill have to do with social issues. Specifically, a set of provisions that Gov. Pritzker has previously referred to as “equity-centric” lawmaking.
Put simply, these are provisions aiming to account for the harm caused by the war on drugs.
As such, these provisions will set aside a certain number of business licenses for business owners from communities most affected by prohibition. This includes people from poor neighborhoods. It also includes people from neighborhoods of color and other over-policed neighborhoods.
Additionally, it includes people who were previously arrested for misdemeanor marijuana crimes.
Even more, the new rules will pave the way for many to have past criminal records expunged. Specifically, people convicted of possessing small amounts of weed could qualify for expungement. As of now, the main requirement is that the original conviction was not linked to a violent crime.
As reported earlier this month by ABC News, there are an estimated 770,000 people in Illinois who could immediately qualify for this program.