Illinois is poised to become the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use. The Illinois General Assembly passed a marijuana legalization bill the week of May 26, and Governor J.B. Pritzker has indicated he will sign it into law.
Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about what the new law will mean for Illinoisians:
Where can I buy marijuana in Illinois?
Consumers will be able to buy marijuana for recreational use from licensed sellers on January 1, 2020.
Who can buy marijuana?
Consumers aged 21 and older will be able to buy marijuana products from licensed sellers in Illinois - with or without a medical marijuana card.
Who can sell marijuana legally?
Medical marijuana dispensaries will be the only legal sellers of marijuana for recreational use in January 2020. Beginning in mid-2020, Illinois will grant additional licenses to dozens of new stores, processors, cultivators and transporters.
Up to 295 stores could be in operation in Illinois by 2022, according to Marijuana Business Daily. But county and municipal governments will have the power to decide whether to allow sellers to operate in their area.
How much can I possess?
Illinoisians will be able to legally possess 30 grams, or about an ounce, of cannabis flower. The legal limit for cannabis concentrate is 5 grams. And the limit for cannabis-infused products, such as edibles or tinctures, is 500 milligrams of THC, the chemical that gets users high. Illinois visitors will be allowed to possess half of those amounts.
Where can I smoke legally?
It will be legal to smoke in one's own home and on-site in some cannabis-related businesses.
Use is prohibited in:
- Any public place, such as streets or parks
- In any motor vehicle
- On school grounds, with the exception of medical users
- Near someone under the age of 21
- Near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer
Can I grow marijuana?
Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to grow five plants at a time. But non-patients are not allowed to grow marijuana at home - punishable by a civil penalty of $200 for growing up to five plants.
Only Illinois' 20 existing licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities will be licensed to grow marijuana initially. In 2020, "craft growers" will be able to apply for licenses to cultivate up to 5,000 square feet.
How will it be taxed?
Purchase of cannabis flower or products with less than 35% THC are slapped with a 10% sales tax. Cannabis-infused products such as edibles come with a 20% tax. Products with a THC concentration higher than 35% come with a 25% tax. Illinois municipalities and counties will be able to levy additional local sales taxes.
The new law also imposes a 7% gross receipts tax on the sale of marijuana from cultivators to dispensaries - a cost that will likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.
What happens to criminal records related to marijuana?
People convicted for possession of under 30 grams of marijuana prior to legalization would have their records referred to the state's Prisoner Review Board and the to Governor J.B. Pritzker for a pardon - as long as those convictions were not associated with a violent crime. If the governor grants the pardon, the Illinois attorney general would then seek expungement.
Those convicted for possession between 30 to 500 grams would have the option of petitioning for expungement themselves. Local state's attorneys could also pursue expungement for those convictions on a case-by-case basis.
What about driving under the influence?
Illinois already has a law on the books that makes drivers with THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter guilty of driving under the influence, regardless of whether the driver is impaired. The new law creates a DUI Task Force led by Illinois State Police to examine best practices for roadside testing.