Illinois Just Passed Recreational Cannabis

They're the first state to legalize via their legislative body.

Illinois legalizes recreational cannabis iStock / Sean Pavone

Heads up, Chicago! Recreational marijuana will soon be legal in the state of Illinois – at least by 2020.

A little over a week ago, the Illinois State House of Representatives successfully passed a bill to make recreational cannabis use legal for adults over the age of 21.

House Bill 1438, known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, reads: “In the interest of allowing law enforcement to focus on violent and property crimes, generating revenue for education, substance abuse prevention and treatment, freeing public resources to invest in communities and other public purposes, and individual freedom, the General Assembly finds and declares that the use of cannabis should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older and should be taxed in a manner similar to alcohol.”

The bill passed the House 66-47 and is now headed to the Governor’s desk for final approval.

What The Cannabis Law Looks Like In Illinois

Governor JB Pritzker

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker (Source: illinois.gov)

Once signed into law, Illinois residents will be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, up to 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, and edible products containing up to 500 mg THC. Non-state residents, however, will be limited to under half of what a state-resident is allowed. An excise tax of at least 10% would apply to all recreational cannabis sales, with concentrated products with greater than 35% THC facing higher taxes, and an expected $170 million in revenue in the first year alone.

Back in 2013, residents of the Prairie State voted overwhelmingly in favor of giving patients access to cannabis, making Illinois the 20th state to legalize medical cannabis for residents with qualifying medical conditions.

At this point, a total of 33 states have now officially legalized medical marijuana, with 10 of those states (and Washington D.C.) having voted to make weed legal on the recreational level as well. 

Illinois’ Governor JB Pritzker has already promised to sign the bill.

In a recent statement, Gov. Pritzker said, “The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunities in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.”

Gov. Pritzker also tweeted in response to the bill’s passage, “I especially want to thank the sponsors @SenatorSteans and @RepKellyCassidy, as well as @ToiHutchinson, @SenatorAquino, @RepJGB, @RepCelina, the Black and Latino Caucuses, and Sen. @jasonbarickman and Rep. @davidawelter for their tremendous work to make legalization a reality…In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation.”

According to Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy, social justice is at the forefront of efforts to reverse marijuana prohibition, saying, “Prohibition hasn’t built communities. In fact, it has destroyed them. It is time to hit the ‘reset’ button on the War on Drugs. We have an opportunity today to set the gold standard for a regulated market that centers on equity and repair.”

Not everyone is supportive of the legislation; said Republican Representative Marty Moylan, “If this bill passes, a giant, big-money industry will commercialize an addictive drug in our state.”

The new law will take effect on January 1st.

Illinois Just Passed Recreational Cannabis was last modified: by
Anna Lucia Krupp
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Anna Lucia Krupp
Anna Lucia Krupp is a freelance scientific and technical writer working out of the Twin Cities area.