Illinois Legalizes Marijuana
Friday, May 31st the Illinois House voted 66 to 47 in favor of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The bill will now be sent over to the governor, J.B. Pritzker, for him to sign before becoming a law. Pritzker is a fan of the bill and has already stated that he looks forward to signing the bill (update: Governor Pritzker signed this bill into law June 26th 2019). Illinois will become the 11th state to legalize cannabis and the first of those to do so using legislation.
Social Equity Program
One of the largest sections of this 600+ page bill acknowledges the damage the war on drugs has done to minorities in cities throughout Illinois. The bill introduces the “Social Equity Program” which aims to help those that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs by offering assistance, loans, grants, and waiving some business fees. Businesses located in select areas will be given priority application viewing to help build those areas back up. The bill also mentioned that qualifying applicants will have 50% of their application fees waived.
The only catch to this program is the business owner qualifying for the social equity program must stay with the business for at least 5 years or all benefits, grants, loans, and fees waived much be paid back.
Democrats who led the legalization effort have touted the legislation’s efforts to address the toll of the drug war on black and brown communities.
Who Can Grow and Sell?
Currently only the 20 existing licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities will be licensed to grow. Next year, craft growers can apply for licenses to cultivate up to 5,000 square feet. Current medical marijuana dispensaries and new retail stores will be licensed to sell.
Cannabis with a THC level at or below 35% will be taxed at 10% of the purchase price, with higher-potency marijuana getting a 25% tax rate. Infused products will be taxed at 20%. The bill allows municipalities to add additional local taxes if they choose to. Cultivation businesses would pay 7% of their gross receipts in taxes.