As had been widely expected, Gov. J.B Pritzker yesterday (June 25) signed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois. This makes the state the 11th to legalize marijuana fully, joining the likes of Colorado and California.
When this new law takes effect on Jan 1, 2020, adults 21 and older will be allowed to possess up to 30grams of marijuana and non-residents will be permitted to possess a maximum of 15grams.
The signing ceremony marked the fulfillment of a pledge Gov. Pritzker made when he was campaigning for office. He promised to see the swift legalization of recreational marijuana in order to bring needed revenue to the state, correct historical wrongs occasioned during the futile war on drugs and also shift scarce law enforcement resources to more serious crimes.
This law makes Illinois the first state to legalize recreational marijuana legislatively while creating a comprehensive framework for sales across the state. The other state (Vermont) which took this path just stopped at passing a law that created an agency to work out the details of full implementation.
Until legal sales start at the beginning of 2020, it will still be illegal to possess marijuana unless one is registered on the state’s medical marijuana program.
On the market side, the legalization law creates a first-of-its-kind mechanism through which people from impoverished communities will be helped to participate in the legal cannabis industry. This help will come in the form of fee waivers, low-interest loans and other forms of preferential treatment for “equity” applicants. A portion of all revenue generated from the marijuana industry will also be reinvested in impoverished communities in order to revive their economies.
Police departments have been jittery ever since the law was drafted, and their stiff opposition led to the dropping of a provision which would have seen residents allowed to grow up to five plants for recreational use. This opportunity now went to medical marijuana cardholders who weren’t initially allowed to grow marijuana for their own use.
Police departments are now worried that it will be hard for them to stay on top of people driving under the influence of marijuana since there isn’t reliable technology to test for impairment.
Meanwhile, hopes were high among advocates that New York and New Jersey would also legalize marijuana legislatively this year but the plans in those states fizzled out during spring. There is almost no doubt among cannabis industry analysts that the whole industry, including Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA) and Lexaria Bioscience Corp. (CSE: LXX) (OTCQX: LXRP), has heaved a collective sigh of relief that the momentum of state-level legalization hasn’t stalled completely.
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