Chicago Moves Closer to Marijuana Legalization

Source: Curbed, ABC7, Chicago Tribune


Illinois could become the latest state in America to legalize marijuana as legislators consider a bid to make the drug recreationally legal. A flurry of last-minute proposals is set to move through the Illinois House of Representatives Friday, May 31.

If the proposal passes, Illinois would become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Wednesday, May 29, the state senate passed a bill, House Bill 1438, giving the lower house until the end of the day Friday to pass.

Newly sworn-in Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned in support of marijuana legalization. He is expected to sign any bill that makes it through the legislature. Rather than advocating for marijuana-related tax incentives, Pritzker has instead capitalized on the social justice implications inherent in legalization.

“Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis, and I’m grateful that the Senate has taken this important step with a bipartisan vote,” Pritzker said in a Wednesday statement.

If the bill passes, it will not go into effect until January 2020. At that time, Illinois residents over 21 years of age would be able to purchase and possess 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and/or cannabis-infused products, such as gummies or baked goods, with no more than 500 milligrams of THC. Nonresidents would be able to purchase half of those amounts.

Illinois already has laws governing the medical use of marijuana. If the bill passes, medical patients would be able to buy marijuana seeds and grow plants at home. Personal growers would be limited to 5 plants per household.

Cannabis-related crimes disproportionately impact communities of color. Certain individuals convicted of these crimes would become eligible for pardons. Those convicted of crimes involving 30 grams or less would receive pardons from the Governor. If someone was convicted of an offense that involved possession of 500 grams or less, state’s attorneys or those individuals would be able to petition an Illinois court to vacate the conviction.