Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Tuesday signed into law a bill that will legalize marijuana in Illinois next year, marking a momentous shift in how the state treats drug use.
The bill will allow the licensed growth, sales, possession and consumption of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
The signing ceremony, attended by several lawmakers, officeholders and marijuana supporters, took place at the Sankofa Cultural Arts & Business Center in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood.
Pritzker called the legislation a “sea change” for Illinois, saying that the war on drugs has destroyed families and disproportionately affected minorities.
“Illinoisans have had enough,” he said. “… The time for change has long since passed.”
A press release and fact sheet are here.
* CBS News…
“Studies have shown time and time again that black and white people tend to use cannabis at the same rates, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for possession,” [Pritzker] said. “Criminalization offers nothing but pain, disruption, and injustice. The legislators and activists standing with me today have heard you.”
In addition to providing criminal-record scrubbing for past low-level offenders, the law gives preference to would-be marijuana vendors in areas of high poverty and records of large numbers of convictions. And portions of tax proceeds must be reinvested in impoverished communities.
* CBS 2…
In addition to standard state and local taxes, the state would impose a 10% tax on all marijuana products with up to 35% THC, the chemical that gets marijuana users high. Marijuana products with THC concentrations of more than 35% would be taxed at 25%. Cannabis-infused products like edibles would be taxed at 20%.
Counties can add up to 3.75% for unincoprated areas and municipalities can add special taxes up to 3%.
The legislation also will effectively wipe clean previous small-time marijuana convictions.
The governor also will pardon all misdemeanor marijuana convictions involving less than 30 grams. Prosecutors or convicts could seek court orders to pardon and expunge records of convictions involving up to 500 grams.
“Change is hard, but an essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed,” Pritzker said before signing the bill at the Sankofa Cultural Arts and Business Center on the West Side. “In the past 50 years, the war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities.” […]
New conflict of interest provisions were also added, which ban lawmakers and their family members, as well as state employees, from being able to get a cannabis business license for two years. New changes also included strengthening language to ensure employers can maintain a zero tolerance drug policy.
Designed to address concerns about impaired driving, the bill also includes the addition of a DUI Task Force led by Illinois State Police to examine best practices. That includes examining emergency technology and roadside testing.
* Capitol News Illinois…
The equity measures direct 25 percent of legalization revenues to a newly-established Restore, Reinvest and Renew Grant Program to “address the impact of economic disinvestment, violence, and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system,” according to a press release.
Legalization is expected to generate $57 million in the upcoming fiscal year and as much as $500 million a year when the industry is fully mature.