Illinois Governor Signs Cannabis Legalization Bill

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The cannabis movement picked up major steam last week.

Illinois this week became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and the second to do it (following Vermont) via the legislative process. Setting precedent, Illinois becomes the first state to legalize retail sales legislatively.

This became official on Tuesday, June 25, when Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law. The new legislation includes means for reinvestment in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition, broad expungement provisions, and measures meant to ensure the industry includes communities that have been targeted by cannabis enforcement.

To the middle point, CRTA includes a clemency process for convictions of up to 30 grams. These expungements will be automatic. For amounts of 30-500 grams, the clemency process also applies, though individuals must petition the court to vacate the conviction. Overall, around 770,000 cannabis-related records will be eligible for expungement, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, a organization that works on marijuana policy reform, and helped Illinois leaders shape CRTA.

“We applaud the Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pritzker on this resounding victory for personal liberty, racial justice and common sense,” says Steve Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Illinois’ focus on fairness and equity in legalization should be a model for other states.”

Elected officials nationwide are heeding the call of an overwhelming majority of voters who want to stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol,” Hawkins adds. “And just as we today look back at alcohol prohibition as a misguided failure, future generations will look back and shake their heads in disbelief that cannabis prohibition lasted so long.”

Retail sales are set to begin in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020.

Tax rates are set on THC concentration, and break down as follows:

  • 10% tax will apply to cannabis flower or products with less than 35% THC
  • 20% tax will apply to products infused with cannabis, such as edible products
  • 25% tax will apply to any product with a THC concentration higher than 35%

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