Cannabis signingIllinois will become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis after Gov. Pritzker signed the historic measure at a ceremony in Chicago this week.

State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) was a key negotiator of the new law.

“I am so proud to have an instance of working on this issue that I know almost never comes to most policy makers,” Hutchinson said. “To be in spaces where you have to roll up your sleeves and get in and talk to people who do not agree with you, and show up in communities where folks are worrying and afraid about what this means for their communities. There was no one pushing us to do this. We did this because we thought it was the right thing to do."

The new law – which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020 – establishes the regulatory framework to license and tax cannabis sales with a heavy focus on supporting minority communities that have been disproportionally affected by failed drug policies.

Under the new law, adults 21 and older will be legally able to possess any combination of the following:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product

To prioritize restorative justice, the law allows for the automatic expungement of convictions dealing with amounts of cannabis under 30 grams. For convictions dealing with amounts of 30-500 grams, state’s attorneys or individuals can petition a court to vacate the conviction.

It invests significantly in communities harmed by discriminatory drug law, creating the Recover, Reinvest and Renew Program (R3) program to provide grants and assistance to those areas.

After agency administrative needs and costs related to expungement are covered, the remaining revenue from taxes and licensing fees will be distributed as follows:

  • 2% for public education and safety campaigns
  • 8% for law enforcement funds for prevention and training to be distributed through the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) formula
  • 25% for Recover, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program
  • 20% for programs that address preventative substance abuse programs and mental health services
  • 10% for the bill backlog
  • 35% or the remaining amount for the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF)

State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) was the lead sponsor of the legislation.

“I am proud to say that, by working with hundreds of stakeholders and spending years seeking community input, we have crafted the most just, well-regulated cannabis plan in the country,” Steans said. “This law keeps our children safe by prioritizing public safety, includes extensive restorative justice measures and brings in much-needed revenue for our state. I am thankful to all of my colleagues who stayed with me in this fight and to Gov. JB Pritzker for making it law.”

The new law was signed by Gov. Pritzker on Tuesday, June 25 and goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

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