Pubdate: Wed, 26 Jun 2019
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2019 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Robert McCoppin


Marking a historic moment in an expanding national movement, Illinois
Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation that makes recreational
marijuana legal in Illinois.

After debate in Springfield earlier this year - during which one
lawmaker even cracked eggs into a frying pan to depict the "brain on
drugs" - the bill allowing possession and sales to begin on Jan. 1 was
approved by the House and Senate.

Illinois became the 11th state to legalize cannabis and the first
state in which a legislature approved commercial sales. Vermont
lawmakers legalized possession, but not yet commercial sales. Approval
in other states came via referendum.

Opponents warned of more addiction, mental impairment, and
drugged-driving deaths, while proponents spoke of a need to end a
failed war on drugs, which has disproportionately hurt minorities.

Legalizing marijuana is expected to generate revenue in the coming
budget year to help restore poverty- and crime-ridden communities and
fund substance abuse, mental health and law enforcement services,
supporters say.

"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," Pritzker said in a statement.

As detailed in the 610-page bill, cannabis is meant to be taxed and
regulated similarly to alcohol, with a lot of rules affecting its use.

The approval of the bill raised a number of questions throughout the
state about the soon-to-be new law. Here are the answers to some of

Who can grow and sell it?

Only the 20 existing licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities
will be licensed to grow it initially. Next year, craft growers may
apply for licenses to cultivate up to 5,000 square feet, with
preference given to applicants from minority areas disproportionately
affected by the war on drugs, such as the South and West sides of
Chicago. Medical marijuana dispensaries and new retail stores will be
licensed to sell it. Medical cannabis patients will be allowed to grow
up to five plants each at home.

Who can buy what?

Illinois residents age 21 and over may possess up to 30 grams or about
1 ounce of flower (roughly as much as an adult can hold in cupped
hands), 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, or 500 milligrams of THC -
the chemical that gets users high - in a cannabis-infused product such
as gummies and other candy, tinctures and lotions. Adult visitors to
the state may possess up to 15 grams of marijuana.

Who can ban it?

Municipalities and counties may ban cannabis businesses within their
boundaries, but may not ban individual possession. Any person,
business or landlord may prohibit use on private property. Colleges
and universities may continue to prohibit marijuana use.

Where is consumption prohibited?

In any public place like on the street or in a park, on school grounds
(except for medical users), in any motor vehicle, in a correctional
facility, near someone under 21, while driving a boat or flying a
plane, or by a school bus driver, police, fire or corrections officer
while on duty. It's OK to use it at home, as long as outsiders can't
see it.

How does it affect criminal records?

The governor will pardon past convictions for possession of up to 30
grams, with the attorney general going to court to expunge or delete
public records of a conviction or arrest. For possession of 30 to 500
grams, an individual or a state's attorney may petition the court to
vacate and expunge the conviction, but prosecutors may object, with a
judge to make the decision.

How is it taxed?

Sales will be taxed at 10 percent for THC levels at or less than 35
percent; 20 percent for cannabis-infused products such as edibles; and
25 percent for THC concentrations of more than 35%. That's in addition
to standard state and local sales taxes. Municipalities may add
special taxes of up to 3%, counties may add up to 3.75% in
unincorporated areas, and Cook County may add up to 3% in

How do federal laws affect Illinois' law?

The drug remains federally illegal, but federal law enforcement
typically has not prosecuted possession of small amounts, or
businesses complying with state programs.
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