Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
It also means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged. Cannabis purchases will be permitted to adults 21 and older at approved dispensaries, licensed and established. Legal cannabis may start selling Jan. 1, 2020. Illinois is the first state in which a legislature approved commercial sales. Residents will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product such as an edible and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate. Gov.J.B. Pritzker signed the bill claiming that taxation of marijuana could generate $800 million to $1 billion a year. He estimated that in the budget year that begins July 1 dispensary licensing would generate $170 million. The fully implemented program might generate $500 million annually within five years.
The law gives preference to would-be marijuana vendors in areas of high poverty and records of large numbers of convictions. The bill was amended to allow five plants to be maintained only by authorized patients under the state's medical marijuana law. “We applaud the Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pritzker on this resounding victory for personal liberty, racial justice, and common sense," Steve Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.