IL on Tuesday became the 11th US state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults after Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that also provides for the removal of certain previous drug convictions and will generate new revenue for the financially troubled state.
Legalization in IL also means that almost 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged, a provision minority lawmakers and interest groups demanded. "This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon, and individual court action." writes Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
IL is the second state to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult use exclusively through the legislative process and the first to authorize retail sales of the substance legislatively.
It allows residents over the age of 21 to possess 30 grams of marijuana and sets up a regulated retail scheme. The law will go into effect in January 2020.
He claimed that, once established, taxation of marijuana could generate $800 million to $1 billion a year in taxes. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, both Chicago Democrats who have been advocating legalization for at least four years, were forced to lower that estimate to about $58 million in the final proposal.
The marketplace portion of the IL law also addresses what critics have complained is the decades-long war on drugs' disproportionate impact on minority communities.
"Studies have shown time and time again that black and white people tend to use cannabis at the same rates, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for possession", he said.
"Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it's the right thing to do". And portions of tax proceeds must be reinvested in impoverished communities. They previously could not grow their own.
"Tuesday morning, the governor put pen to paper here in the Austin neighborhood, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana and it's commercial sale in the state". Vermont lawmakers approved adult marijuana use in 2018.
Other initiatives have failed. Legalization efforts in NY and New Jersey fizzed this year despite support from top lawmakers. Discussions in Pennsylvania never got off the ground.
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Who was against the move? The resolution was supported by 118 members, 62 people voted against it, and 10 people abstained. A decision on members' objections is expected on Wednesday, the day the council chooses its next secretary general.
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