Illinois May Be The Next State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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Residents in the state of Illinois may soon be able to enjoy the legalization of recreational marijuana as Governor J.B. Pritzker announced on Saturday that he and the key lawmakers involved have reached an agreement.

Per ABC News this new legislation would allow adults who are 21 or older to legally purchase marijuana from licensed dispensaries for recreational use. Residents would be allowed to lawfully possess up to an ounce of weed. Non-residents who are visiting the state would be allowed to legally possess half an ounce.

If the bill passes, some marijuana convictions would automatically be expunged from criminal records. It, however, is unclear what does and doesn’t fall into that category.

If the proposal passes, Illinois would join Alaska, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana.

While the new legislation would go into effect in January, rolling out a new system for legal cannabis is a process that takes time. In fact, the government would not issue the first licenses for growers, processors, and dispensaries until between May and July of 2020.

The bill comes with a $20 million low-interest loan program attached in order to assist in bringing down the cost of establishing a licensed cannabis business for the “social equity applicants.”

According to ABC News, not everyone – including some members of law enforcement – are supportive of plans to move forward with legalizing weed. Critics of the proposal argue the legalization will increase addictions and cause a rise in mental disorders. Some argue it won’t help the community as much as the governor’s office believes it will.

“The consequences of this bill are far reaching and will have devastating impacts on citizens, communities and youth. Illinois lawmakers must take a smart, commonsense approach, and not welcome in another addiction-for-profit industry into the state,” Kevin Samet, the founder and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said in response to the legalization proposal.

During his proposal, Pritzker insists that the revenue legalizing marijuana will bring into Illinois will assist in some of the heavy debts the state is currently buried under.

The office of the governor plans to use 35 percent of the revenue generated for the state’s general operating fund. Another 25 percent will be placed into the “Restoring Our Communities” fund. Then, the state plans to use just 10 percent of the revenue toward the massive backlog of unpaid bills and debt suffocating the state.

Any revenue unaccounted for from the legalization of marijuana would be used to pay for substance abuse treatment, mental health support, law enforcement grants, and public education.