A draft law through which Illinois will legalize recreational marijuana has been unveiled. The bill has some ambitious provisions, while others appear to have been borrowed from other states where marijuana is now legal for adult use.
One of the most noticeable provisions of the draft law is one that sets up a low-interest loan program worth $20million. Under this program, people from disadvantaged communities, such as African Americans, would borrow the money and set up cannabis businesses so that social equity can be promoted in the industry.
Another eye-catching provision in the law which was unveiled on Saturday (May 4) states that large-scale cultivators wouldn’t initially be licensed to operate within the state. Rather, small (“craft”) growers would be given priority at least for the first 12 months, and then larger players would be considered thereafter.
This emphasis on small growers is intended to spread the opportunities in the recreational cannabis sector to as many local players as possible.
The lawmakers also seem to have learnt a lot from California where local authorities have made it difficult for residents to access recreational cannabis by banning the operation of marijuana retail businesses in their jurisdictions. The draft bill in Illinois has a provision allowing local authorities to ban retail outlets within their areas for only the first 12 months.
Thereafter, any ban in a municipality can only be enforced once the voters in that jurisdiction approve the ban through a referendum. This is a great proposal because it puts the fate of recreational marijuana in municipalities in the hands of voters, rather than in the hands of a few municipal council members who may have divergent views from those of the people they represent.
The proposed law also has provisions on the likely taxes which will be levied on recreational marijuana products. For example, the lawmakers propose that customers will pay a 10 percent tax on cannabis products whose THC content is less than 35 percent while the products with a THC content that is higher than 35 percent will attract a 25 percent sales tax.
Entities that want to grow cannabis in the state will pay a permit fee of $100,000 while those who want to operate retail businesses will fork out $30,000 for a permit. Applicants from minority communities would pay lower permit fees so that the barriers to entry are reduced.
Debate on the bill is already heating up between proponents and those opposed to marijuana legalization. The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd. (TSX: TGOD) (OTCQX: TGODF) and other companies hope that logic will prevail during these debates and the best law will be enacted for the people of Illinois.
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