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Recreational marijuana legalization bill goes to governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WEEK) — A bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk.

House Bill 1438 passed the Illinois House on a 66-47 vote Friday, the last day of the regular legislative session.

If signed into law, the bill will allow Illinois residents age 21 and over to have combinations of 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, or 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product.

The legislation also creates a process to expunge some cannabis convictions from criminal records. The bill also promotes minority participation in the nascent legalized cannabis industry.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on recreational cannabis legalization and is expected to sign the bill. It will go into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance,” said Pritzker. “I applaud bipartisan members of the General Assembly for their vote on this legislation and I especially want to thank the sponsors Senator Steans and Representative Cassidy, as well as Senator Hutchinson, Senator Aquino, Leader Gordon-Booth, Representative Villanueva, the Black and Latino Caucuses, and Senator Barickman and Representative Welter for their tremendous work to make legalization a reality. In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation.”

The Illinois Senate passed the legislation Wednesday. Lawmakers in the House held a spirited debate on recreational cannabis legalization over three hours on Friday. At one point, Democratic Rep. Anthony DeLuca cracked an egg on the House floor and dumped the yolk into a frying pan, saying “this is your brain on drugs.”

“I have many concerns and unanswered questions over the legalization of recreational marijuana, which is why I voted no on the legislation earlier today,” said Rep. Norine Hammond (R-Macomb), who voted against the legislation. “The legislation does not adequately address health and safety issues that will arise from legalization. Former felons who have had their convictions expunged may be allowed to possess firearms and some marijuana dealers may have their criminal records cleared. There is no court-admissible, roadside field sobriety test for drivers operating vehicles under the influence of marijuana. That will not make our communities safer. These are issues that should’ve been addressed before the passage of this bill.”

State Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth (D-Peoria) was one of the main sponsors of the bill, spearheaded by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

This story will be updated.

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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