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Gov. Pritzker Signs Bill Legalizing Recreational Marijuana

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law Tuesday morning in Austin on Chicago’s West Side, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults.

“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Pritzker was joined by a host of elected officials, including Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton, state Sen. Heather Steans, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Cook County State’s Attorney, and others.

“I am proud to say that, by working with hundreds of stakeholders and spending years seeking community input, we have crafted the most just, well-regulated cannabis plan in the country,” said Steans. “This law keeps our children safe by prioritizing public safety, includes extensive restorative justice measures and brings in much-needed revenue for our state.”

As of January 1st, 2020, Illinois residents over the age of 21 will be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, edibles that total up to 500mg of THC, and five grams of cannabis concentrate products. Non Illinoisans will be able to possess have those amounts. Registered Illinois residents in the pilot medical cannabis program will also be allowed to grow up to five plants at home in a separate locked room out of public view.

The bill also automatically expunges arrests for marijuana possession under 30 grams, and Pritzker has said he would pardon people with convictions up to 30 grams. People may seek expungement in court for cases of up to 500 grams.

Some 700,000 records are eligible for expungement, with about 405,000 eligible for automatic expungement, according to a fact sheet provided by the Pritzker administration. An additional 302,000 records are eligible for individuals or State’s Attorneys to file motions with the courts.

“The time for justice is now, especially for communities of color who have long been disproportionately impacted by low-level cannabis convictions and the failed war on drugs,” said Foxx. “We look forward to continuing our efforts to ensure the broadest relief possible under this revolutionary law.”

The bill also establishes the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program (R3), to address “economic disinvestment, violence, and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system.”

The Illinois Department of Revenue predicts legal pot will bring in $57 million in tax revenue and licensing fees in FY20, and more than $140 million in tax revenue alone in 2021. Revenue generated from the bill will be split across various parts of Illinois’ budget, with 35% going to the General Revenue Fund, 25% to support the R3 Program, 20% for mental health and substance abuse programs, 10 percent to help pay the state’s backlogged bills, 8 percent for crime prevention programs, and 2 percent for a public education campaign and data collection.

“Today is an affirmation of individual liberty. Adult use of cannabis should be a personal choice,” said state Rep. David Welter. “Beyond that, I am proud of our commitment that 20% of the revenue generated by legalization will go toward funding for mental health and substance abuse services in Illinois. An additional 10% will go to pay down the state’s backlog of unpaid bills; which directly benefits hospitals, health care and social service providers in every community across the state.”

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