On Saturday Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) unveiled the details of his new bill which would see recreational cannabis legalized in the Land of Lincoln at the start of next year.
If passed, Pritzker's new bill would allow Illinoisans 21 or over to legally possess and consume cannabis. Under the proposed legislation, state residents could possess up to 30 grams of dried cannabis, up to five grams of cannabis concentrates and a maximum of 500 milligrams of THC (cannabis' intoxicating compound) in edibles. Individuals would also be able to grow up to five plants at home.
Possession limits for out-of-state visitors would be half of what Illinois residents can carry.
The bill also contains a number of social justice provisions and Pritzker has called it the " the most equity-centric law in the nation." An estimated 800,000 people would have minor cannabis convictions wiped from their criminal records automatically under the proposed legislation.
Additionally, no new large-scale growers would be licensed to operate right away. Instead, the state would focus on developing an industry of "craft" growers led by the people most impacted by the War on Drugs, reports Marijuana Moment. Training programs and low-interest loans would be made available to people from areas disproportionately affected by cannabis prohibition in the past.
State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields) told The Chicago Sun-Times that Pritzker's bill "serves as the single-biggest piece of criminal justice reform as it relates to the war on drugs that the Legislative Black Caucus has ever been able to be a part of passing."
Tax rates would be set at ten percent for cannabis products with less than 35 percent THC content and 25 percent for products with 35 percent THC content and over. All cannabis-infused products, such as food and drinks, would be taxed at a rate of 20 percent. Those tax dollars would be allocated to the Illinois General Fund, community reinvestment, mental health and substance abuse treatment, state debt, law enforcement training and public drug education.
While some praise the bill for promoting social equity, others remain staunchly opposed to it. Notably, Kevin Sabet - President of the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana - said "the consequences of this bill are far reaching and will have devastating impacts on citizens, communities and youth." He is supporting a resolution that would slow down the legalization process.
However, Pritzker has said the bill has been thoroughly reviewed by six different working groups and he sees no need to slow the process down.
It is not know yet when the bill will go to the House and Senate floors for a vote, but Pritzker has previously stated he wanted to get the bill passed before the end of the current legislative session.