Finally, Illinois becomes the 11th state that legalizes adult recreational cannabis
Illinois legalizes. During his election campaign, JB Pritzker, the current governor of Illinois promised that he would legalize recreational marijuana and that Illinois would become the eleventh state where adult recreational cannabis is legal in the United States. The governor was well aware that marijuana would create many new jobs and produce large tax revenues.
But it is not just a matter of economics. It is also a way to compensate minorities, especially African-American minorities, whose lives were badly damaged by the war on drugs.
This means that around 800,000 people with a criminal record for buying or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less will see their criminal record erased.
The new law gives priority to these people when it comes to obtaining licenses and promises to dedicate 25% of the tax revenues from marijuana sales for the development of these racial minorities that were so punished during the failed war on drugs.
Democrat Governor JB Pritzker enjoys a comfortable majority to legislate. The last elections gave him control of the state government, which had been in the hands of the Republicans for four years.
JB Pritzker signed the bill supported by a group of recreational cannabis advocates including Kelly Cassidy and Sen Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago. With visible emotion, Cassidy said that the concept of a war on drugs was being re-established.
The law allows Illinois residents to buy or possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) of marijuana. And non-residents can have or buy up to 15 grams. Clients must be over 21 years of age and can buy their marijuana in the approved dispensaries, which, after they have obtained the corresponding license, can start selling on January 1, 2020. This is important because buying or selling before from this date it is still a crime.
Pritzker dedicated some emotional words to the victims of so many years of war against drugs that had destroyed entire families, especially among the African-American and Latino communities. He regretted that the jails had been filled unfairly with non-violent criminals. He also regretted that the application of an absurd law had cost billions of dollars to penalize cannabis while its consumption was becoming more and more widespread.
The governor believes that with the legalization will be obtained about one billion dollars a year. He also said that only licenses for dispensaries would generate 170 million just in the next year. Cassidy and Steans are not so optimistic and believe that dispensary licenses will generate 58 million in the first year and 500 million a year, within five years.
Pritzker mentioned a 2010 statistic by the American Civil Liberties Union that, although blacks represent 15% of Illinois’ population, they account for 60% of arrests for possession of cannabis.
Democrat Jehan Gordon-Booth spoke of the contemporary history of marijuana in Illinois as a plot in which a few white men have become very rich while blacks went to jail.
The governor’s plan goes through the eradication of criminal records in cases of marijuana offenses in the poorest areas and the review of a large number of convictions. In addition, 25% of the income must be invested in the poorest communities of the state and 20% in rehabilitation programs for drugs of abuse.
According to Gordon-Booth, after 40 years of treating entire communities as criminals, this multimillion-dollar industry finally arrives. Black and Latino people have been placed at the center of this policy of redress in a way that no other state has done before.
The 55 medical cannabis clinics already in existence in Illinois will be the first to obtain the license for recreational cannabis. These dispensaries may obtain permission to sell recreational marijuana in their current stores and may obtain a license to obtain a second store, which means that the state could have 110 recreational marijuana outlets when sales begin on January 1.
In October, the application period for 75 more dispensaries opens. And no more licenses will be granted until the state sees how people are responding to the new law.