clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Marijuana legalization: How the new law will change Chicago

New, 17 comments

Governor Pritzker is poised to sign after today’s big vote

Tommy Ischerwood of Chicago, Illinois displays a remake of the city’s official flag, altered to include marijuana leaves,as he signs up supporters to his organization NORML Illinois at the largest pubic conference on cannabis in the US June 7, 2014.
AFP/Getty Images

Illinois will become the latest state in the nation to legalize marijuana today, as legislators passed a measure making recreational pot the law of the land, part of a flurry of last-minute proposals being debated in the Illinois House of Representatives today.

The Land of Lincoln is on the verge of becoming the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana. Governor J.B. Pritzker, who campaigned in support of legalization, is expected to promptly sign the bill.

The state senate passed the measure, House Bill 1438, Wednesday, 38-17, giving the lower house until the end of the day today, Friday, May 31, to pass. Representatives took full advantage of their time, eventually passing the measure 66-47. The floor debate, which lasted more than three hours and included a representative actually bringing an egg to the floor as a prop, in reference to the “This is your brain on drugs” ad campaign from the 1980s, saw legislators go into great detail defending their respective votes.

“Illinois is poised to become the first state in the nation that put equity and criminal justice reform at the heart of its approach to legalizing cannabis, and I’m grateful that the Senate has taken this important step with a bipartisan vote,” Pritzker said in a statement Wednesday.

Here’s what passage of the bill, which wouldn’t go into effect until January 2020, means for the state and for Chicago.

What can I buy if the bill passes?

The bill would allow Illinois residents over 21 years of age to purchase and possess 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, as well as cannabis-infused products, such as gummies or baked goods, with no more than 500 milligrams of THC. Nonresidents would be able to purchase half of those amounts.

Where can I buy marijuana in Illinois?

The bill would authorize the licensing and regulation of cannabis suppliers and businesses, creating a system for those interested in starting businesses to begin applying for permits. In addition, it allows for on-site consumption anywhere marijuana is sold. The latest version of the bill includes a provision that allows local government to prohibit cannabis businesses in their communities and enact zoning regulations to control their location, potentially setting up the same contentious debates taking place in Los Angeles.

What about medical marijuana?

Illinois already has laws governing the medical use of marijuana. Medical patients would, under this new bill, also be able to buy marijuana seeds and grow plants at home. Personal growers would be limited to 5 plants per household.

How do I open a marijuana business in Illinois?

Potential business owners and entrepreneurs will, under the proposed law, need to pay a $100,000 application fee. Future dispensaries would pay a Cannabis Business Development Fee, either 5 percent of total annual sales of a flat $750,000, but no less than $250,000.

The bill also provides loan assistance to helps start cannabis-related businesses, aimed at communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis-related criminal convictions.

What does this mean for those convicted of marijuana-related offenses?

Certain individuals convicted of cannabis related crimes, which disproportionately impact communities of color, would become eligible for pardons. Those convicted of crimes involving 30 grams of less would receive pardons from the Governor. If someone was convicted of an offense that involved possession of 500 grams or less, state’s attorneys or those individuals would be able to petition an Illinois court to vacate the conviction.

The Marijuana Policy Project believes more than more than 750,000 cannabis-related cases will be eligible for expungement under this measure.

Will this help Illinois balance its budget?

State Senator Heather Steans told the Chicago Tribune that said legalizing marijuana via this legislation could be expected to generate $57 million in general revenue in the coming budget year.

Can I smoke at work?

Not a great idea. The law include a stipulation that allows any workplace to maintain a zero-tolerance policy regarding marijuana use. In addition, the state also has a law that finds those driving while high guilty of driving under the influence.