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Democratic-dominated Illinois leans towards cannabis legalization

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Democratic-dominated Illinois leans towards cannabis legalization

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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Legal recreational cannabis in Illinois could be on the horizon for after the recently-inaugurated 43rd governor of Illinois and former businessman, Gov. J.B. Pritzker, declared his desires to legalize pot for adult-use “nearly right away.”

“In the interests of keeping the public safe from harm, expanding true justice in our criminal justice system and advancing economic inclusion, I will work with the legislature to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois,” Pritzker declared in his inaugural address.

Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, John Sullivan, said that state lawmakers are in the process of drafting language for a law to permit recreational cannabis in Illinois. Medical cannabis legalization was approved in the state back in 2013.

If Illinois lawmakers act quickly, it will go down in history as the 11th U.S. State to legalize cannabis for consumers aged 21 and over.

“I don’t think anybody really knows what the ultimate final piece of legislation will look like,” Sullivan said. “The Department certainly has the expertise with regard to the medicinal that we think we can use some of that experience if and when recreational happens here in Illinois.”

Cannabis in Illinois: Individuals imprisoned for cannabis offenses stand to benefit from Pritzker’s pot plan

(Pictured) Gov. J.B. Pritzker

According to Pritzker, individuals who have been imprisoned for cannabis-related offenses in Illinois would have their cases reviewed and – quite possibly – their penalties expunged.

In March of 2018, cannabis advocates in Illinois introduced a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. Proponents of the bill believe that legal adult-use weed could rake in $350 million to $700 million dollars in taxes for the state, thus boosting the economy.

Sullivan claims that the Department of Agriculture will collaborate with the governor’s office to deal with the issue. The department expanded its medical cannabis program in August of last year.  Qualified patients can acquire a maximum of 2.5 ounces of medicinal-grade cannabis from licensed dispensaries every 90 days.

Cannabis in Illinois: EPD will continue to enforce laws in accordance with state and city

(Pictured) Cmdr. Ryan Glew from Evanston Police Department

The plan for legal recreational cannabis in Illinois is still somewhat hazy.

Cmdr. Ryan Glew from Evanston Police Department said he cannot quite ascertain how the police department would enact a law of this kind, due to lack of official writing detailing the bill. He made a point of confirming that the EPD will continue to enforce laws applicable to those laid forth by the state and city.

Based on the details of existing city ordinances, individuals are obligated to appear before the City’s Division of Administrative Adjudication if they are found with 10 grams of cannabis or less on their person.

Violating this law means that the individual will be slapped with a fine of $50-$500 and could be forced to commit to rehabilitation, community service or counseling. Getting caught with more than 10 grams of weed in Illinois means you will need to appear before the Second Municipal District of the Circuit Court of Cook County.

The details of a bill signed in 2016 by former Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner state that individuals possessing no more than 10 grams of cannabis will not receive a criminal charge but rather, a citation. Until recreational cannabis legalization in Illinois is enacted, dealers and those in possession of 10 grams or more will still face jail time.

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Democratic-dominated Illinois leans towards cannabis legalization