Is Cannabis Legal in Illinois?

Although cannabis is not legal at the federal level, Illinois has decriminalized the possession of small amounts of the drug and legalized its use for medical purposes. Learn more about the current state of cannabis law in Illinois.

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Introduction

The act of growing, using, and possessing cannabis in Illinois is still illegal. Like many other states, lawmakers in Illinois are debating the legalization of cannabis. Some believe that the use of cannabis should be regulated like alcohol, while others believe that it should remain illegal. The sale and possession of cannabis is currently illegal in Illinois.

Cannabis has been illegal in Illinois for many years, but the landscape is changing rapidly. In 2019, the state legislature passed a bill decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis and creating a system for legal adult-use sales. Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the bill into law in June 2019, and it went into effect on January 1, 2020. Illinois is now the 11th state to legalized cannabis for adult use.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, also known as HB 1 or the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, was signed into law on August 1, 2013 by Governor Pat Quinn. The act allows people who are suffering from certain debilitating medical conditions to use cannabis for medicinal purposes. To be eligible for the program, patients must first obtain a written certification from a physician licensed in the state of Illinois.

As of January 1, 2014, there are 33 qualifying medical conditions that allow a person to participate in the pilot program, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and chromosome abnormalities causing epilepsy. The Illinois Department of Public Health is responsible for administering the program and there is a $100 application fee. Patients are allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of usable cannabis per 14-day period.

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program is set to expire on July 1, 2018 unless it is renewed by the legislature.

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was signed into law by Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 25, 2019, making Illinois the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and older. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020.

The new law creates a system to regulate the production, testing, transportation, and sale of cannabis in Illinois, as well as imposes a tax on the sale of cannabis products. Under the law, individuals 21 and older are allowed to possess up to 30 grams (about one ounce) of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, or 500 milligrams of THC (the psychoactive component in cannabis) in their home or other private residence.

Cannabis may not be consumed in public places, and smoking cannabis is still prohibited in all indoor public places where smoking tobacco is also prohibited under the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Additionally, employers are still allowed to maintain drug-free workplace policies and are not required to accommodate employees who use cannabis during work hours or while on duty.

How the Legalization of Cannabis Would Impact Illinois

Tax Revenue

If cannabis were to be legalized in Illinois, it would create a new source of tax revenue for the state. A tax on cannabis would raise much needed revenue for the state, which could be used to fund vital services such as education and infrastructure. In addition, the legalization of cannabis would also lead to the creation of new jobs in the state. The cannabis industry is projected to create over 1 million jobs nationwide by 2025.

Economic Impact

The potential economic impact of the legalization of cannabis in Illinois is significant. A report by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute estimates that the state could see $1.58 billion in annual economic activity and more than 24,000 new jobs if cannabis is legalized. The report also estimates that tax revenue from legal cannabis could reach $675 million per year.

Crime Rate

There is a great deal of debate on whether or not the legalization of cannabis would lead to an increase in crime rates. Some studies say that there would be no impact, while others say that crime would increase by up to 13%. It is hard to know for sure what the impact would be until it happens.

What we do know is that the current system of prohibition does not work. It creates a black market for cannabis, which funds organized crime and leads to violence. It also fills our prisons with nonviolent offenders, which costs taxpayers billions of dollars each year.

It is possible that the legalization of cannabis would lead to an increase in crime, but it is also possible that it would have no impact or even lead to a decrease in crime. We will not know for sure until it happens.

Conclusion

Yes, cannabis is legal in Illinois for both recreational and medical use as of 2020. Recreational users must be 21 years or older, and medical patients must have a qualifying condition and a valid medical cannabis card. Illinois residents are allowed to grow up to five plants per household.

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