State would be 11th to make cannabis legal for adults, first to regulate legal market through its legislature
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois is likely to become the 11th state to make cannabis legal for adults after the state House of Representatives passed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act on Friday. The Senate approved the bill on Wednesday. Illinois is the first state to pass legislation regulating the adult-use cannabis market through its legislature. Governor J.B. Pritzker has pledged to sign the bill into law.
“Illinois lawmakers made history today by being the first state legislature to not only end the madness of prohibition but also by creating a regulated market for the production and sale of cannabis products to adults,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). “This bill will generate revenue, create jobs, improve public safety by replacing criminal markets with legitimate businesses, and takes important steps to help marginalized communities access business opportunities in the newly-legal industry.”
The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, which would take effect on January 1 of next year, makes it legal for adults age 21 and older to possess 30 grams or less of raw cannabis, five grams of cannabis concentrate, and cannabis infused products with up to 500 mg of THC, as well as to purchase those amounts from licensed retail establishments. The bill requires the state to establish a regulatory structure to license and oversee dispensaries, processors, craft growers, cultivation centers, and transporters, and establishes specific tax rates for different types of cannabis products in addition to the state sales taxes and a local tax of up to 3.5%. Registered medical cannabis patients would be able to cultivate up to five plants in their residences, but this allowance does not extend to all adults.
The legislation also includes several provisions to help repair some of the harm caused by racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws and to ensure equity and diversity in the legal cannabis industry. All convictions for possession of amounts of cannabis made legal under the bill will be automatically expunged, with opportunities to appeal for expungement of convictions for larger amounts. Business applicants who have been harmed by prohibition or have ties to communities that have been disproportionately impacted will receive additional points in the licensing process, and the legislation calls for the creation of local bodies to guide the reinvestment of cannabis revenue in those communities. The bill also creates a fund to provide financial assistance to small business applicants as well as pilot training programs throughout the state to prepare people for jobs in the cannabis industry.
“It is fitting that the Land of Lincoln is moving forward with such extensive measures to reverse the damage done to people of color and low-income communities by the government’s senseless war on cannabis consumers,” continued Smith. “We cannot continue to pursue legalization without considering restorative justice, and Illinois is definitely starting on the right foot in this regard.”
There are currently 10 states, as well as the District of Columbia and the territory of CNMI, in which cannabis is legal for adults. All except D.C. and Vermont allow regulated production and sales, and Washington is the only state that does not permit limited home cultivation.