Steans introduces legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois

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Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) introduced legislation today that would make it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase and possess cannabis in Illinois.


"Ending prohibition is a tremendous step forward, and it’s time to bring cannabis sales into the light where they are regulated to ensure safety and taxed so the revenue can help benefit the state," Steans said. "It is time to bring restorative justice to communities that have been devastated by the War on Drugs, and it is time to create opportunities for minority entrepreneurs."

The legislation, cosponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights), would legalize cannabis sales beginning on Jan. 1, 2020.

Lawmakers put together a proposal that prioritizes restorative justice, equity and a well-regulated market for cannabis. Steans, along with House sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy, held over a dozen town halls and hundreds of meetings with stakeholders over the past two years.

Under the proposal, Illinois residents would be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product. The bill also allows for adults 21 and older to grow up to five cannabis plants in their home, providing certain conditions are met.

The legislation includes significant provisions to address the disproportionate harm prohibition caused in minority communities. One-fifth of revenue from taxes and licenses will go to the Restoring Our Communities program, which will invest in communities that have suffered the most because of discriminatory drug policies.

The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will also administer a low-interest loan program to qualified “social equity applicants” to help with the start-up costs associated with entering the new cannabis industry.

Revenue from the new industry will be distributed as follows:

  • 35% will be transferred to the General Revenue Fund,
  • 25% will be transferred to the Restoring Our Communities Fund for community reinvestment,
  • 20% will be transferred to a fund that will support mental health and substance abuse services at local health departments,
  • 10% will be transferred to the Budget Stabilization Fund to pay the backlog of unpaid bills,
  • 8% will be transferred to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to create a law enforcement grant program, and
  • 2% will be transferred to the Drug Treatment Fund to fund public education and awareness.

To prioritize public safety, Steans built on the existing regulatory framework of Illinois’ medical cannabis industry, one of the most well-regulated in the country. All cannabis products would be tested for potency and contaminants to ensure consumers know exactly what they are purchasing.

Businesses will also be required to label cannabis products with test results and product warnings to inform individuals of potency and serving size.

Click here to download a fact sheet and learn more about the proposed legislation.