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Pritzker rolls out bill to legalize recreational marijuana by January 1

CHICAGO (WEEK) — Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the introduction of a framework which seeks to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois by New Year’s Day.

At a press conference Saturday, Pritzker and a group of Democratic lawmakers announced an amendment to Senate Bill 7 which would allow people aged 21 and over to legally purchase marijuana for recreational purposes by Jan. 1, 2020.

“Years of work by stakeholders across Illinois means that today we are putting forward a framework for the General Assembly to move forward this session to legalize adult use cannabis, and we welcome additional feedback and insight during this debate,” said Pritzker. “From the outset, I made clear that any plan for adult use cannabis had to prioritize social justice and equity, and the approach we’re taking starts righting some historic wrongs and opening up access to this new market with a $20 million loan program that will help qualified applicants from impacted communities.”

Pritzker said his plan will also seek to expunge minor cannabis convictions from people’s criminal records, promote racial equity in ownership in marijuana growing and distribution, and reinvest money in communities he says have suffered the most from “discriminatory drug policies.”

“For generations, government policies of mass incarceration increased racial disparities by locking up thousands of individuals for cannabis use or possession,” said state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria). “Now, as we discuss legalization, it is of the upmost importance that we learn from these mistakes and acknowledge the lingering effects of these policies.  This bill makes equity a priority by acknowledging the importance of both economics and criminal justice in righting these wrongs.”

The bill would allow adults to home grow up to five cannabis plants under certain conditions. Employers would still have discretion to discipline or terminate employment for violation of company drug policies.

Under the proposed law, people could legally possess the following:

Possession limit for Illinois residents:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • 500 milligrams of THS contained in a cannabis-infused product, or
  • >30 grams of raw cannabis grown by an eligible resident

Possession limit for non-Illinois residents:

  • 15 grams of cannabis flower
  • 2.5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • 250 milligrams of THS contained in a cannabis-infused product

Taxes on legal cannabis would range from 10 percent for products with THC content below 35 percent of 25 percent for cannabis products with THC above that threshold. All cannabis-infused products would be taxes at 20 percent of the purchase price.

Pritzker said 20 percent of the revenue generated by cannabis sales will be reinvested into substance abuse and mental health services.

“The Illinois State Police will be a responsible partner in enforcing the law and ensuring any and all provisions of adult use legislation are strictly and efficiently complied with,” said Illinois State Police Acting Director Brendan Kelly. “We are committed to ensuring the safety of the residents of Illinois.”

The ACLU of Illinois immediately hailed the bill’s introduction.

“Today’s announcement is another step toward securing passage of marijuana regulation legislation in Illinois that is centered on fairness and equity,” said Khadine Bennett, Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs Director of ACLU Illinois. “The ACLU will continue to support removing barriers for people with a marijuana conviction, allowing these individuals to participate in a legal industry, and directing new revenue from the marijuana industry to communities that have been decimated by the failed war on drugs.”

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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