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Steans, Hutchinson pass legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois

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SPRINGFIELD – After two years of work, hundreds of meetings with stakeholders and over a dozen public hearings, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) passed legislation today that would make it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase and use cannabis.

The legislation includes some of the most comprehensive restorative justice measures of any state that has legalized cannabis, seeking to combat the disproportionate harm prohibition caused to minority communities.

“Prohibition is not working. It’s time to come up with a better policy,” Steans said. “This plan keeps our children safe by prioritizing public safety, includes extensive restorative justice measures and brings in much-needed revenue for our state.”

Under Steans’ proposal, adults 21 and older would be able to possess any combination of the following beginning Jan. 1, 2020:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product

The measure allows for the automatic expungement of convictions dealing with amounts of cannabis under 30 grams. For convictions dealing with amounts of 30-500 grams, state’s attorneys or individuals can petition a court to vacate the conviction.

It invests significantly in communities harmed by discriminatory drug law, creating the Recover, Reinvest and Renew Program (R3) program to provide grants and assistance to those areas.

After agency administrative needs and costs related to expungement are covered, the remaining revenue from taxes and licensing fees will be distributed as follows:

  • 2% for public education and safety campaigns
  • 8% for law enforcement funds for prevention and training to be distributed through the Local Government Distributive Fund (LGDF) formula
  • 25% for Recover, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program
  • 20% for programs that address preventative substance abuse programs and mental health services
  • 10% for the bill backlog
  • 35% or the remaining amount for the state’s General Revenue Fund (GRF)

Co-sponsor State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) released the following statement:

“One of the things that we wanted to make sure we accomplished with this legalization was ensuring we put social equity at the center and the heart of our efforts, acknowledging that while we normalize and legalize something that is happening across the country, that we tie the direct nexus to the communities that the prohibition has hurt the most.

“We are really proud of these provisions that enable us to study this new law, track any success or failures and give ourselves the time and information needed to self-correct if it doesn’t do what it is we expect it to do.”

House Bill 1438 passed the Senate today and will head to the House for a concurrence vote.

Read a fact sheet with more details about the legislation.