Illinois to Be 11th Legal Recreational Marijuana State

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Marijuana at a cannabis dispensary in Las Vegas
Source: Associated Press, “West Virginia Posts Online Medical Marijuana Survey,” Oct. 19, 2017

Illinois lawmakers approved recreational marijuana bill HB 1438 on Friday, May 31, 2019. Governor J.B. Pritzker, JD, has indicated he will sign the bill, which will make Illinois the eleventh state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The law is expected to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, at which point cannabis possession and sales will be legal for adults over 21 years old. Only currently licensed medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed to sell marijuana at first, with more licenses expected to be issued mid-year.

Governor Pritzker (D) tweeted on May 31, 2019, “The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equality-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it more and giving so many a second chance.”

Illinois is the first state to legalize commercial sales of marijuana via legislation. Vermont legalized possession via legislation in 2018, but has yet to legalize commercial sales. The other nine states have legalized recreational marijuana via ballot initiative.

Additionally, the governor will pardon everyone convicted of possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana and the attorney general will expunge public records of the convictions and arrests. People who have been convicted of possessing 30 to 500 grams will be able to petition for their conviction to be expunged.

State Representative Anthony DeLuca referenced a 1980s anti-drug commercial by cracking an egg into a frying pan during the legislative debate and stating, “this is your brain on drugs.” The lawmaker later stated, “This bill moves in the opposite direction of moves I’m trying to make as a parent, telling kids getting stoned is an acceptable recreational activity. I just have a real problem with that. No matter how you package this — whether it’s revenue or criminal justice reform, or people are smoking it anyway, I can guarantee where we’ll be in 10 or 20 years, and it’s not going to be good.”

Illinois legalized medical marijuana in 2013 and is one of 33 legal medical marijuana states.

Discussion Questions
1. Should recreational marijuana be legal? Explain your position.

2. Should people who have been convicted of marijuana possession have their records expunged? Why or why not?

3. Should medical marijuana be legal? Why or why not?

Sources:

David Aaro, “Illinois Poised to Legalize Recreational Marijuana,” foxnews.com, June 2, 2019

Austin Berg, “What You Need to Know about Marijuana Legalization in Illinois,” illinoispolicy.org, June 1, 2019

Robert McCoppin, “Here’s When Marijuana Will Be Legal in Illinois, and Answers to Other Burning Questions about Recreational Weed,” chicagotribune.com, June 3, 2019

Karen Pierog, “Illinois Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Wins Legislative Approval,” reuters.com, May 31, 2019

WGN Web Desk, “Illinois Lawmaker Uses Egg, Frying Pan Demonstration During Recreational Marijuana Debate,” wgntv.com, May 31, 2019