Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed legislation making Illinois the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
The Democrat signed legislation Tuesday in Chicago allowing residents to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) of marijuana at a time. Non-residents could have up to 15 grams. See details of the new law.
Illinois joins 10 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing recreational use. It's been essentially illegal for the past 80 years and since 1970 has been federally banned as a narcotic.
“As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy: a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people,” Pritzker said in a statement. “Legalizing adult-use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do. This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action. 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.”
But Pritzker made legalization a main tenet of his campaign for governor last fall.
Nearly two dozen states have pursued legalization in the past two years. Efforts in New York and New Jersey fizzled this spring. Pennsylvania officials proposed it but it never got off the ground.
“This historic legislation will right the wrongs of the past and truly serve as a model for other state legislatures as they look for an equity-centric approach to legalize and regulate recreational cannabis,” state Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, said in a statement. “The communities that have suffered through the war on drugs will now have an opportunity to enter a new market and be successful. This is nothing short of a landmark moment for criminal justice reform in the state of Illinois that took years to reach. I thank my colleagues in both chambers for making today a reality.”
The new law goes into effect Jan. 1.
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