When Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a new law on June 25th, Illinois became the 11th U.S. state to legalize recreational possession of marijuana, according to an article by the Associated Press. As of January 1, 2020, the legal limit will be 30 grams for residents and 15 grams for non-residents.
Officially titled the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (CRTA), this initiative will allow adults over 21 years of age to purchase, possess, and use marijuana recreationally. At present, only those people with a medical prescription may legally purchase, possess, or use marijuana in Illinois.
Once the CRTA becomes effective, there will be a path to expungement for an estimated 800,000 people with marijuana-related convictions. The state will expunge the criminal records for anyone purchased or possessed 30 grams or less of marijuana. Offenders who committed other possession crimes may petition for expungement, but the state prosecutors may block some of those petitions.
As established in the Findings section of the CRTA, the Illinois General Assembly decided that it was necessary to legalize marijuana in order to:
- Empower law enforcement to concentrate on violent and property crimes;
- Generate proceeds for substance abuse prevention and treatment;
- Produce revenue for education;
- Invest public resources in communities; and
- Protect individual freedom.
With those goals in mind, 25% of CRTA tax revenue will benefit underdeveloped communities. An additional 20% of the tax revenue will go toward substance abuse treatment. Several legislative sponsors estimated that the CRTA will produce tax revenue of $58 million in year one and increase to $500 million annually within a few years.
Minority owners will receive preference for state licenses to sell legal marijuana under the CRTA. Though Illinois will not issue any vendor licenses until after January 1st. The existing medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois will get the first chance to apply for recreational licenses.
The 55 existing medical dispensaries will be able to apply for licenses at their current location and a second establishment. The state will also review applications for 75 other dispensaries during the initial rollout. Assuming approval of all of those licenses, Illinois could have 185 dispensaries selling legal marijuana at some point next year.
Until January 1st, however, it is important to remember that possession of marijuana remains a criminal offense in Illinois. Outside of authorized medical use, Illinois still prohibits any person from possessing, purchasing, or using marijuana.
Do You Need Legal Help?
No matter what the criminal offense, all charges are serious. A sound strategy and an aggressive defense are essential for a positive outcome. To protect your rights in such situations, it is highly advisable to retain legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.
The Prior Law Firm in Bloomington, Illinois, has proven experience in matters of criminal defense. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free consultation. You can reach The Prior Law Firm by phone at (309) 827-4300, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by completing an online form.
(image courtesy of Esteban Lopez)