SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois is on track to become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis use.
After the Senate passed a legalization bill Wednesday, the House of Representatives followed suit on Friday. The bill now awaits the signature of Governor J.B. Pritzker before it can become law. Pritzker has previously pledged to sign the bill.
Illinois will now join an even more exclusive club. They are now only the second state to approve recreational cannabis through its legislature. Typically, legalization has been the result of successful ballot initiatives. Vermont legalized recreational use through the legislative process last year. However, lawmakers have been slow to carve out specific regulations and further delays are possible
Cannabis industry members were pleased with the bill’s passage by Illinois lawmakers.
“This bill will generate revenue, create jobs, improve public safety by replacing criminal markets with legitimate businesses, and takes important steps to help marginalized communities access business opportunities in the newly-legal industry,” said Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
“It is fitting that the Land of Lincoln is moving forward with such extensive measures to reverse the damage done to people of color and low-income communities by the government’s senseless war on cannabis consumers,” Smith continued. “We cannot continue to pursue legalization without considering restorative justice, and Illinois is definitely starting on the right foot in this regard.”
Executives at NORML also weighed in on the bill’s passage.
“Cannabis criminalization in Illinois is coming to an end,” Dan Linn, executive director at NORML’s Illinois chapter, said in a statement. “While this bill isn’t perfect, it does provide a pathway for adults to legally obtain and consume cannabis.
Linn also saw the bill as a positive development for those seeking relief through cannabis.
“It also expands access and rights for qualified medical patients,” Linn said of the bill. “Importantly, the bill provides much-needed relief to those most harmed by the legacy of prohibition and emphasizes giving those who have been most harmed by cannabis criminalization preference in establishing a foothold in this new industry.”
Although Linn is pleased, he feels lawmakers will have to do more to protect the rights of Illinois residents.
“We are confident that this is the best bill we could get through the legislature at this time, but are adamant that Illinois must enact additional protections in the future, in particular, the right of adults to home grow personal use amounts of cannabis,” Linn said. “Today’s outcome is the result of years of volunteers educating the public and lobbying lawmakers in Illinois. This process has not been easy but it does reflect what dedicated citizens can accomplish if they engage in the political process.”
Edie Moore, who is the executive director of NORML’s Chicago chapter was focused on how legalization of cannabis could benefit those impacted by prohibition.
“We’re going to be able to look back five years from now and see that the quality of life in disadvantaged communities has been made better because of this legislation,” Moore said.