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Illinois Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

Wyatt Merkley
Illinois Governor Pritzker legalizes Cannabis

One more state falls to the favor of cannabis.

The week started with disappointment as New York failed to legalize adult-use cannabis. Then came the positive news of this historic vote, as Illinois legalizes recreational cannabis.

The decision makes the prairie state the 11th in the country to legalize the use and sale of recreational cannabis. With more than 12 million residents, Illinois is now the second most populated state to legalize.

Illinois now joins Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, and D.C. in ending prohibition.

Adult-use cannabis will become legal on January 1st 2020, giving lawmakers several months to test and develop regulations.

A Social Justice Initiative Takes Front Seat As Illinois Legalizes

The most relevant pieces of the legislation are those of social justice. Adult-use cannabis taxes will expunge the records of over 770,000 cannabis-related crimes.

Other states have passed similar bills, but these have almost always been added after the fact. Illinois is the first to include reparation considerations at the forefront, rather than as an afterthought. Additionally, the new law is expected to help turn around Illinois’ disastrous opioid epidemic.

Of the decision, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said: “Today, we are giving hundreds of thousands of people the chance at a better life – jobs, housing and real opportunity.”

Lawmakers will use leftover tax money to support several initiatives, including drug enforcement, addiction treatment, improved access to mental health services, and to bolster the state’s general fund.

“We believe this legislation sets up a strong, well-regulated program that will be successful and serve as a model for New York, New Jersey and other states that are considering legalization.” Says Sam Dorf, chief growth officer of multistate marijuana company Verano Holdings.

A Framework for Other States

Basically, as Illinois legalizes, the state’s size, and their commitment to the responsible expungement of nearly a million criminal charges, makes this a massive victory for cannabis advocates. And, a great sign for the future.

Kris Krane, of the National Cannabis Industry Association, spoke in a public comment. Krane said: “The very narrow defeats in New York and New Jersey show just how difficult this process is, even when you seemingly have a legislative consensus for legalization.”

Let’s hope that Illinois can inspire other states to take similar measures to secure access to cannabis for its citizens.

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Wyatt Merkley

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