The Illinois Senate passed a bill legalizing recreational marijuana and left the Assembly with just two days to approve the changes made to HB 1438 before the current legislative session ends. The House did just that on Friday (May 31), and what is left is for the governor to sign that bill into law so that the state becomes the 11th across the country to fully legalize marijuana.
Gov. Pritzker campaigned on a platform of marijuana legalization, so he is widely expected to sign off on the bill when it gets to his desk.
If the bill becomes law, adults in Illinois aged 21 or older will be allowed to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and the patients who are registered on the state’s medical cannabis program will now have the liberty to grow a limited number of plants for their own use. Recreational users will not be allowed to grow marijuana.
Nonresidents of Illinois will also be allowed to possess a maximum of 15 grams of marijuana without any risk that they will be prosecuted.
Rep. Kelly Cassidy, who sponsored the bill, was visibly elated and cheered as the votes came in during a session to pass the bill. The final count was 66-47, and supporters erupted into loud celebration once it was announced that the bill had passed, just in time before the end of the legislative session.
Cassidy remarked that Illinois had taken a big step towards setting the gold standard for a regulated marijuana industry which is based on equity and repair (of the harms done during the war on drugs).
This bill couldn’t have passed at a better time because the state is currently cash-strapped. The tax revenue from the regulated industry is expected to go a long way towards improving the fiscal position of the state. Currently, the pension programs of the state are short by approximately $134 billion, and the state has unpaid bills totaling $7 billion as a result of the persistent budgetary shortfalls.
During his campaign, Pritzker is on record saying that a regulated marijuana industry has the potential of adding $1 billion in tax revenue to the state each year, and the law enforcement agencies would be free to focus on other serious crimes instead of spreading themselves thin going after people who use marijuana.
However, not everyone is as positive as the governor regarding marijuana legalization. For example, Rep. Anthony DeLucas (D-Chicago Heights) regrets the passing of the bill saying that it is taking the state in the wrong direction. Earth Science Tech Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) and Choom Holdings Inc. (CSE: CHOO) (OTCQB: CHOOF) are certain that time will disprove the fears of Anthony DeLucas and all those who think like him regarding a legalized marijuana industry.
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