Looks like marijuana legalization advocates in Chicago and surrounding areas have reason to celebrate this week!
According to Complex, Tuesday, Governor J. B. Pritzker signed legislation which will not only make Illinois the 11th state to allow marijuana for recreational use but also include sweeping legal reforms to retroactively address those individuals whose lives have already been adversely impacted by previous drug laws.
As a result of this move, in 2020, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will come into effect and mandate that 770,000 Illinois residents with marijuana-related offenses for up to 30 grams of weed have their criminal records expunged. Those convicted with an amount ranging from 30 to 500 grams, will be permitted to petition a court to have their charge lifted as well.
Earlier this year Gov. Pritzker campaigned in support of legalizing recreational marijuana, explaining that from a fiscal standpoint his law would funnel upwards of $1 billion per year into the state. He also acknowledged that the war on drugs was disproportionately targeted on minorities in the community who deserved a second chance.
“The war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders, and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said, per AP at the time. “Law enforcement across the nation has spent billions of dollars to enforce the criminalization of cannabis, yet its consumption remains widespread.”
The new regulation licensed dispensaries in the state could generate upwards of $170 million next year alone. But Pritzker said he wants to ensure that there is a level playing field in terms of ownership, which is why his bill includes a “social equity program” that will provide minorities with financial resources, low-interest loans, and grants. This will require these programs to seek out low-income students for enrollment and include them in the process.
I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework.
Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) June 25, 2019