Governor J.B. Pritzker is pushing hard to legalize marijuana for recreational use across Illinois, according to an article by The Pantagraph. With solid backing in the state legislature, the governor intends to have a program for recreational marijuana in place by next year.
Under the governor’s plan, any person over the age of 21 would be allowed to purchase, possess, and use marijuana recreationally. Residents of Illinois would be able to purchase and possess one ounce of marijuana. Non-residents would be limited to one half ounce of marijuana. The new legislation would overturn certain convictions and expunge the offender’s criminal record.
If this legislation plan succeeds, recreational use of marijuana would become legal in Illinois on January, 1, 2020. At that point, Illinois would join the other 10 states with recreational marijuana, including California, Washington, and Michigan.
That being said, it will take a little longer for the state to establish the necessary mechanisms to regulate the legal sale of marijuana. Initial licenses for marijuana growing, processing, and dispensing are not expected until the summer of 2020. That means the first legal sales will not occur until at least midway through next year.
According to the governor’s office, revenue from legal sales of marijuana will help solve some of the financial issues Illinois faces at the moment. With $170 million in potential licensing fees already included in the next state budget, the governor is counting on recreational marijuana to have a major impact in the coming years.
Specifically, the licensing funds from legal sales of marijuana will be allocated as follows:
- 35% will go to the state’s general operating fund;
- 30% will support treatment for mental health issues and substance abuse, grants for law enforcement, and education for public awareness;
- 25% will go to the Restoring Our Communities fund; and
- 10% will go toward payment of unpaid bills.
The governor’s legislative plan also includes the availability of $20 million in low-interest loans to help start legal marijuana businesses. These loans will be available to applicants from areas with elevated rates of arrests and convictions for marijuana offenses.
The governor’s legislative plan will now enter the Illinois General Assembly for debate and discussion. In order for the Illinois marijuana laws to change, both the House and Senate must approve the governor’s legislative plan.
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(image courtesy of Esteban Lopez)