Illinois will be joining the ranks of the 10 other states who will legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana. Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, announced he will be fulfilling his top campaign promise by signing legislation that makes his state the 11th to legalize small amounts of marijuana and the second to approve it through the Legislature rather than the ballot box. The bill, HB 1438, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.
A new measure legalizing recreational cannabis will allow the state’s 55 medical dispensaries to apply to sell recreational marijuana. The dispensaries also can apply to open a second location. That means more than 100 dispensaries could be selling marijuana by the beginning of next year, pending a signature from Gov. J.B. Pritzker that officially legalizes recreational weed use.
According to CBS News,
“Legalization in Illinois also means that nearly 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. It also gives cannabis-vendor preference to minority owners and promises 25% of tax revenue from marijuana sales to redevelop impoverished communities.”
The governor also will pardon all misdemeanor marijuana convictions involving less than 30 grams. Prosecutors or convicts could seek court orders to pardon and expunge records of convictions involving up to 500 grams.
Anyone with minor pending marijuana cases may petition the court to dismiss the charges and expunge the records.
“Today we are giving hundreds of thousands of people the chance at a better life,” Pritzker said.
In addition to providing criminal-record scrubbing for past low-level offenders, the law gives preference to would-be marijuana vendors in areas of high poverty and records of large numbers of convictions.
“Ten other states and Washington D.C. have legalized smoking or eating marijuana for recreational use since 2012, when voters in Colorado and Washington state approved ballot initiatives. Vermont and Michigan last year were the latest states to legalize marijuana. Vermont did so through the Legislature, the first time it wasn’t done through a ballot initiative, but didn’t establish a statewide distribution rules as Illinois did.” stated by the Associated Press