Illinois governor legalizes recreational marijuana


Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/TNS

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signs a bill legalizing the use and sale of recreational marijuana in Illinois on Tuesday. The state is now the 11th to have such legislation.

Marissa Martinez, Summer Editor

Illinois is now the 11th state to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana. The law will take effect January 1, 2020.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act into law Tuesday, which will allow adults 21 and older to possess and purchase up to 30 grams of the drug. Individual cities and counties are able to limit the sale, but not possession, of marijuana within their borders.

Nationally, marijuana remains illegal and is federally classified as a Schedule 1 substance.

Supporters have said HB 1438 could potentially undo some of the longstanding effects of discriminatory policies that have disproportionately affected black, Latinx and low-income marijuana sellers and users. For example, the legislation includes a $30 million low-interest loan program and a social equity status option for licensing applicants. However, the marijuana industry in other states where the drug is available recreationally is still overwhelmingly run by rich, white business owners.

The act will also expunge the records of an estimated 700,000 people who have been arrested or convicted for the possession of 30 grams or less. If an individual was arrested or convicted for the possession of anywhere between 30 and 500 grams, they can petition for expungement on a case-by-case basis.

“Signing this bill into law won’t do the injustices of the past, or make full the lives that were interrupted,” Pritzker said during the signing. “We can’t turn the clock back, but we can turn the page.”

It is unclear how Northwestern and other Illinois universities play into the act at this time. Under the law, any person, business or landlord is allowed to prohibit use on private property — and this can include colleges and universities.

[Read more about how Evanston prepared for the legalization of marijuana here.]

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