Marijuana Legalization in Illinois

In the recent years, marijuana legalization has made huge success throughout the United States. Not all states have legalized it, yet, but many more are always being added to the list. More and more states are legalizing medical marijuana, as well. However, some states have gone as far as legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana. The cannabis community is growing and gaining popularity quickly, can you keep up?

In May 2019, lawmakers in Illinois passed a bill that allows for recreational and medical marijuana to be legal and used by adults. The vote was a clear win for marijuana, and has made Illinois the 11th state to legalize both medical and recreational use. How will legalization play out in Illinois? What’s the next move for the cannabis community? Find out what legalization in Illinois means right here.

The Vote

On May 29th, the state’s Senate passed a vote (38-17) that would allow for adults to possess certain amounts of marijuana. The bill was already in support of Governor J.B. Pritzker, who had campaigned for office with a promise to legalize marijuana. As he stated, marijuana legalization would offer “the most equity-centric approach in the nation.” Like many marijuana activists, Pritzker wants to see marijuana legalization happen throughout the entire United States.

Illinois has become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis! Click To Tweet

Even though the bill has been passed, it will not take effect until January 1st, 2020. The state governor and Senate both agree that legalizing marijuana would bring about positive effects, and create opportunities for communities that need it. State Senator Heather Steans said that “Prohibition is not working.” She supported the new bill, and believes that it will bring justice and much-needed revenue to the state (estimated to bring in $57 million). With that, taxes will be added to cannabis products, and loans will be available to help start up new cannabis businesses.

What Is Allowed

So what does the new bill allow for? Well, most importantly, it allows adults (ages 21 and up) to purchase and possess cannabis. But not just any amount. Residents of Illinois will be able to have up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and cannabis-infused products containing no more than 500 milligrams of THC. Nonresidents can purchase half of each of those amounts.

The new bill will also allow for cultivation. Licensed cultivators and dispensaries will be able to grow and sell cannabis and cannabis-related products. Medical marijuana patients will also be allowed to grow cannabis, up to 5 plants, as long as they are kept out of public view.

While cannabis is being legalized and all, the new bill does allow for employers to keep a “zero tolerance policy” in the workplace. This means that employers can still test its employees for the use of cannabis, and can still fire them for it. If you work in Illinois, make sure to contact your employer to check if they allow the use of cannabis (may be good to know).

Not only are all of these allowed, but so is something that was of major concern: cannabis-related crimes. Reform to these crimes will be enforced, in hopes of bringing justice to Illinois.

Marijuana-Related Crimes

Those who voted to pass this new bill have hopes that it will help reform the criminal system in Illinois, expunging minor offenses to cannabis-related laws. Those who would not be arrested for using cannabis under this new bill (that have been previously arrested), will now be eligible to have those crimes wiped clean. Illinois Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth claimed that if these offenses were wiped clean, new educational and career opportunities will arise, allowing for some of these people to escape from poverty.

The actions taken to help reform cannabis use in Illinois have not gone unnoticed. Gov. Pritzker stated that Illinois is the first state to “put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis.” According to the Marijuana Policy Project, over 750,000 cannabis-related offenses are eligible for expungement under this new bill. This is great news to many of the state government’s members, as they aim to help these offenders out.

Legalizing cannabis will “give individuals freedom over their life decisions,” as stated by state Senator Jason Barickman. Bringing about criminal justice reform only helped cannabis to become legalized, as reform will help out many low-income communities in Illinois.

Cannabis legalization in Illinois sounds good, right? That’s what the state Senate and Governor are saying. Many eyes are centered on Illinois, to see how legalization really plays out. One thing we do know is that it is a major victory for the cannabis community, as the focus can now be put on other states that have yet to legalize.

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