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Illinois on Verge of Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

While efforts to legalize marijuana in Northeast legislatures have been mostly stymied this spring, Illinois is moving full speed ahead.

On May 29, the state Senate voted 38-17 in favor of SB 2275, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. It now goes to the House as HB 1438. Gov. J.B. Pritzger says he’ll sign it.

Update: On May 31, the Illinois House voted 66-47 in favor of the state’s legalization legislation, setting the stage for the governor to approve it. Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize marijuana.

This legislation is a landmark in a number of ways: Illinois will be the first state to legalize recreational marijuana legislatively (30 grams in this case) and create a commercial market at the same time (Vermont did the former last year). It would also expunge more than 750,000 cannabis-related cases, including all convictions for possession of less than 30 grams, and create a social equity program for people most directly impacted by the War on Drugs.

ILLINOIS GOV. J.B. PRITZKER: “Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis.”

Home growing (five plants) would only be allowed for medical patients. The tax structure is 10% on flower, 20% on edibles and 25% on concentrates, as well as state and local sales taxes, adding up to between 19% and 34% on products sold at retail outlets starting Jan. 1, 2020. The bills are sponsored by Sen, Heather Stearns and Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker made marijuana legalization a hallmark in his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Gov. Pritzker praised the Senate vote, stating: “Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis.”

Marijuana Policy Project executive director Steve Hawkins added: “This bill helps people remove the stigma and harm caused by prior cannabis possession convictions and creates opportunities for those who want to enter the new, regulated program. MPP is proud to have worked hand-in-hand with state lawmakers and Gov. Pritzker to develop this historic legislation.”

The states with legal adult-use marijuana and regulated markets are: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada and Oregon. Vermont is also legal, but does not allow for commercial sales.

RELATED

New York State of Cannabis: Will Legalization Happen?

Legalization in New Jersey Goes Back to the Drawing Board

North Dakota Decriminalizes Marijuana, Joins 14 Other States

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