June 25, 2019
Illinois Becomes 11th State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Illinois has become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, Fox News reports, after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill passed weeks ago by the state's General Assembly. Pritzker had been expected to sign the bill, considering that he was the one who pushed for it in the first place.

As reported at the time by The Inquisitr, Illinois' General Assembly approved House Bill 1438 at the end of May, in the closing days of the legislators' legislative session. Prior to passing the historic bill, Illinois' House and Senate had been working back and forth to come up with a compromise bill that satisfied the voting members of both chambers, as well as Pritzker.

One of the sticking points had been the status of the tens of thousands of Illinoisans currently engaged with criminal charges or convictions related to pot. Pritzker had wanted a bill that allowed for the pardoning of those already doing time for marijuana convictions, and for the expunging of the criminal records of those who had done their time. The bill that reached Pritzker's desk accomplished both of those things.

Another sticking point was whether or not Illinoisans would be allowed to grow their own cannabis. The bill that the assembly passed allowed for the state's existing medical marijuana users, with a physician's recommendation, to be allowed to grow up to five plants, according to Rolling Stone.

Illinois' law allows for in-state residents to purchase up to 30 grams of cannabis per day, while out-of-state residents can purchase 15 grams. Cannabis flowers with a THC content of under 35 percent will be taxed at 10 percent; vape oils and other concentrates will be taxed at 25 percent; and cannabis-infused products such as candies and brownies will be taxed at 20 percent. Anyone who wishes to purchase cannabis must be at least 21 years of age or older.

Shanita Penny, president of the Oregon-based Minority Cannabis Business Association, says that she hopes that Illinois' cannabis industry will include representation by people of color, in sharp contrast to the industry's reputation for being lily-white. "I am hopeful that this thoughtful legislation... improves the representation of minorities as business owners in the industry and reinvesting in disadvantaged communities," she says.

According to ProCon.org, 33 states have some form of legalized marijuana, either recreational or medical. However, since the Obama administration, the federal government's policy has been one of not interfering with state marijuana laws as long as certain conditions -- such as keeping it out of the hands of children -- are met. The Trump administration has continued that policy, so far.

Illinois' recreational marijuana law takes effect on January 1, 2020.