Illinois Legalizes Recreational Marijuana, Overturns Cannabis Convictions

by Nathan Yerby ❘  

Recreational Marijuana Will Be Legal in Illinois

On June 25, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1438, which allows people in Illinois to use and purchase recreational marijuana. The bill also requires the state to license marijuana dispensaries. Medical marijuana has already been legal in Illinois since 2013 and now Illinois will be the 11th state to legalize the drug for non-medical use.

Recreational marijuana is currently legal in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, and Nevada, although the federal government still classifies cannabis as a Schedule I controlled substance.

Pritzker stated that “legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.” Supporters of HB 1438 claim that taxing legal marijuana will generate millions of dollars in revenue for Illinois and that legalization, combined with the bill’s reparations provisions, will correct injustices which they say anti-drug laws have inflicted on minorities. Opponents of HB 1438, especially interest groups which represent police officers, fear that legalization will cause more people to use marijuana and then drive while “high.”

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New Marijuana Rules and Limitations

Illinois Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Despite The RisksUnder the new law, Illinois residents may possess as many as 30 grams (or 1 ounce) of marijuana and non-residents visiting the state may possess as many as 15 grams, beginning on January 1, 2020. Possessing non-medicinal marijuana will be against the law for the remainder of 2019.

Adults who are at least 21 years old will also be allowed to buy marijuana, but only from licensed dispensaries. The law does not allow people in Illinois to grow their own marijuana unless they are patients who use medical marijuana for treatment. In those cases, they may keep a maximum of 5 cannabis plants in their homes. Additionally, it will remain illegal to use marijuana in public spaces, at schools, in a car, or in the presence of a minor. Landlords and business owners can also ban marijuana use on their private property, and universities and colleges can still prohibit the drug on campus.

When cannabis sales begin on January 1, there may be over 100 dispensaries for recreational marijuana throughout the state. The law requires would-be marijuana merchants to pay $100,000 to apply for a dispensary license. The state will give preference to the 55 medical marijuana dispensaries which are already operating in Illinois and then will open applications for 75 more licenses in October.

Overturning Criminal Convictions

When he signed HB 1438, Pritzker claimed that the “the war on cannabis” – the criminalization of marijuana – “has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities.” Therefore, the law will erase state-level, non-violent marijuana convictions. This provision has the potential to relieve almost 800,000 people of a criminal record.

The law also requires that 25% of tax revenue which the state collects from the marijuana industry be invested in high-poverty areas and that another 20% of the revenue be used to finance programs to treat drug addiction. Furthermore, the law requires that the state give preference to minorities who apply for a license to open a dispensary.

Legal Marijuana Is Not Safe Marijuana

Cannabis may now be legal in Illinois, but regular marijuana users are still at risk for emotional disorders, lung damage, stunted brain development, psychological dependence, and symptoms of withdrawal.

Whether or not it’s legal, marijuana can harm a person’s ability to maintain a heathy lifestyle. If you or someone you know needs help with overcoming marijuana dependence, contact a dedicated recovery provider today to get answers to your questions and find a treatment center that’s right for you.

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