Illinois has made headlines by becoming the 11th U.S. state to legalize recreational marijuana use. They join the growing cohort of states like Michigan and Vermont that have also legalized small amounts of cannabis for recreational use. The house controlled by Democrats sent a legalization plan to J.B. Pritzker, a democratic governor who approved legalization on a vote of 66-47.
Pritzker called for the legalization of marijuana in Illinois during his campaign for governor. He argued that it would free up police time to focus on more crucial matters and Illinois would benefit from the tax revenue earned. He claimed that the state would make over $170 million in licensing fees and up to $1 billion in annual tax revenue.
Both sides of the debate argued with different studies on the impact the drug would have. The opponents claimed that it is a gateway to harder drugs and ill effects like psychosis. It was initially intended to let anyone grow marijuana in their homes for personal consumption yet was opposed by law enforcement. Private property owners are allowed to restrict marijuana use, and employers could still maintain a zero tolerance policy toward marijuana in the workplace.
Anyone over 21 years of age can buy marijuana at a licensed dispensary starting next year. Non-residents are allowed to possess up to 15 grams. Residents are permitted to possess up to 30 grams.
This measure allows anyone convicted of marijuana possession of 30 grams or less, the potential to have their crime pardoned by the governor. In a statement, Pritzker said that Illinois had made history by using the most equity-centric approach to legalize adult-use cannabis. It’s believed that approval would have an impact on the state. Creating opportunities within the community and giving others a second chance.