Illinois Becomes First State To Legalize Legislatively

Illinois has become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. Making the matter even more important to the industry’s current political climate, Illinois is the first state to legalize both possession and sale of cannabis via state legislature, rather than ballot initiatives.

10 of the 11 already legalized states have done so through ballot initiatives, such as Nevada in 2016 when 54.5% of residents gave recreational cannabis the green light. While Vermont lawmakers did legalize cannabis possession through legislature earlier this year, Illinois is first to do so with the inclusion of sales.

Under the new bill signed by Governor J. B. Pritzker, individuals 21 and older can legally possess up to 30 grams of flower, five grams of THC concentrate and 5 grams of THC in cannabis-infused products, effective January 1, 2020. Non-residents will be restricted to about half this amount.

WIth economical benefits becoming a chief reason for state’s legalization, Illinois is certainly not passing up on this side of a legalized industry. According to Illinois Policy, purchases of cannabis with less than 35% THC will be slapped with a 10% tax. On the other hand, THC-infused products such as edibles on will constitute a 20% tax, and further, products with THC concentration higher than 35% will be hit with a 25% tax. Consequently, in an effort to address a long-landing imbalance in the state’s enforcement of drug laws, proceeds from tax revenue will be reinvested in those communities which have been hit hardest by cannabis convictions.

Making this bill particularly notable though, is the strong push it brings to expungement of criminal records for those who previously partook before the industry gained legal legitimacy Under the new legislation, residents of Illinois convicted of small cannabis charges will be applicable to petition to have their records expunged. Illinois will also make use of the social equity program, allowing for those with previous records to gain preference in their applications as vendors.

Previously reported by the Chicago Sun-Times, State Sen. Toi Hutchinson explained during a Senate floor debate, “The most historic aspect of this is not just that it legalizes cannabis for adults but rather the extraordinary efforts it takes to reduce the harm caused by the failed war on cannabis and the communities it hurt the most.”

With current cannabis laws having immensely disproportionate effects on minorities, the new laws will allow for 700,000+ residents to clear their records of low-level cannabis crimes.

For more information on rules and regulations, visit Illinoispolicy.org

Emerald contributor since June 2019

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