Illinois legalizes, becomes the 11th state to allow recreational use of cannabis
Just in case you haven’t heard yet, Illinois passed a law to legalize the recreational use of cannabis this week, becoming the 11th state in the US to make cannabis use legal among adults. Don’t go running out to your local dispensary yet, Illinoisians — adults 21 and older won’t be able to start buying until January 1, 2020. Personal growing will be only for medical use, and as in other areas that have legalized, cities and counties may prohibit sales in their own locations if they choose.
But there is some other good news — Illinois is also decriminalizing, which means that previous convictions for cannabis use will be pardoned and expunged. The law also ensures that low-income communities (which have been hit hard because of racist cannabis laws in the past) will benefit from the new industry, with easier regulations for licensing and the ability to be first in line for tax revenues.
Now, January 1 is a long way away, and there are plenty of regulations and issues to figure out before then. Supply may also be an issue — other states like California and Colorado have greatly benefited from legalizing the drug, but also have had to deal with gray market shops and even shortages due to demand or strict regulations. And of course while Illinois’ law says cannabis is now legal, US federal law still outlaws the drug (though legislation is being worked on right now to protect state laws from that type of enforcement).
Still, this is definitely another historic milestone in the long, hard fight to legalize. Congrats to all of the advocates who worked so hard in Illinois and elsewhere, for moving yet another step forward on the path to full legalization in the US.