Add Illinois to the list of states looking to legalize recreational pot.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and several state lawmakers have drafted a bill that would make it the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana as early as next year. Some of the key features of the proposed bill include:
- A minimum age of 21 for individuals to be able to purchase cannabis legally.
- Home cultivation would allow people to grow up to five plants if safety requirements were met.
- Residents would be able to possess up to 30 ounces; non-residents would be limited to just half an ounce.
- Convictions for possessing, growing, manufacturing and delivering cannabis were all included as eligible for expungement in the proposed bill.
Sponsors of the bill are working with community after hearing criticism from opposition to the proposed legislation. Here is how the state plans on splitting up revenues from the lucrative plant:
- 35%: State’s general operating fund
- 25%: Restoring Our Communities fund
- 20%: Treatment for mental health and substance abuse
- 10%: Unpaid bills
- 8%: Law enforcement training
- 2%: Public drug education
The proposed legislation includes supporting those who suffered as a result of the “war on drugs.” Illinois officials are looking to rebuild damaged communities and use revenues to help citizens who suffer from mental health and substance abuse issues. Because of the social justice provisions, the bill is heavily supported by Democrats.
But even with Illinois having a Democrat-controlled House and Senate, the bill is still being debated and isn’t guaranteed to pass swiftly. State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, along with state police have been vocally opposing the bill.
The new law would be effective on January 1, 2020, if the bill were to pass. However, weeks or months will be needed for the state to license retailers and have pot available for consumers.
More states likely to legalize marijuana in the near future
With nearby Michigan already having legalized marijuana, Illinois might have a big incentive to push the bill into law. Cannabis consumers, and the taxes collected from them, are already flowing to nearby Michigan, a short drive away for legal options for pot consumers. One of the big incentives for legalizing early is that there could be an influx of cannabis tourists, especially from states that are opposed to legalization. Illinois could benefit from customers coming in from neighboring Indiana or Wisconsin where legalization is not yet on the horizon.
Currently, only 10 U.S. states having legalized cannabis for recreational use, offering a limited options for cannabis consumers. However, the loss of potential tax revenue and the changing social perception of cannabis may mean more states will be climbing on board.
State lawmakers have until May 31 to vote on the legalization proposal and the bill is expected to be debated in the weeks ahead.