Illinois Legislature Passes Cannabis Legalization Bill

A bill to legalize adult-use cannabis has passed the Illinois legislature after gaining final approval from the House of Representatives with a 66-47 vote on Friday.

The Senate voted 38-17 to approve the bill, HB1438, on Wednesday.

Also known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, the bill allows adults 21 years of age and older to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrates, and infused products with up to 500 mg of THC.

HB1438 also establishes a licensing and regulation system for cannabis producers and retailers, though home cultivation is only allowed under the state’s medical cannabis program.

Governor J.B. Pritzker [D], who promised during his inaugural address in January to help bring legal cannabis to Illinois, has already indicated that he intends to sign the bill.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation, said Pritzker in a statement following the vote. “This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance.”

“In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation,” he said.

The new law, which includes criminal record expungement provisions, creates assistance in the path to the cannabis industry for minority business owners through grants and loans and launches a grant fund to help communities disproportionately affected by the drug war.

“The legislation passed today legalizing adult-use cannabis in the state of Illinois beginning in 2020 represents a thoughtful expansion of access to cannabis in Illinois,” said Cresco Labs CEO Charlie Bachtell in a statement. “And we expect it will have a positive impact on both social justice issues and from a tax revenue perspective by expanding the employment and ownership opportunities for cannabis businesses in the state.”

Bachtell says that adult-use cannabis legalization continues to have strong support from voters across the country and that the legislation passed in Illinois is a good model for other states to legalize cannabis by statute instead of developing a program after a ballot initiative passes.

After receiving Governor Pritzker’s signature, the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will take effect on January 1, 2020.