Gov. JB Pritzker introduces bill to legalize marijuana in IL

Correction: Marijuana Legalization-Illinois story

Correction: Marijuana Legalization-Illinois story

His name is Kevin Sabet, not Samet.

CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said Saturday he's reached an agreement with key lawmakers on a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state starting next year.

Pritzker announced the bill at the Black United Fund of IL alongside fellow Democratic lawmakers.

Recreational law would not change Illinois' current medical marijuana program, and dispensaries would be required to designate enough supply for medical use.

The legislation would also create a new grant called Restoring Our Communities, which would receive 25 percent of revenue that comes from the sale of cannabis and be distributed to communities across IL "that have suffered the most from discriminatory drug policies". Heather Steans plan to introduce on Monday, would make IL the 11th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana. If passed, IL would become the 11th USA state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The legislation would also establish the Restoring Our Communities (ROC) program "to invest in communities that have suffered the most because of discriminatory drug policies". If passed, the law would go into effect on January 1st, 2020, though the first licenses for growers, processors and dispensaries wouldn't be issued until May and July 2020.

"DCEO will administer a low-interest loan program to qualified "social equity applicants" to help defray the start-up costs associated with entering the licensed cannabis industry".

IL residents would be able to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis and grow up to five plants at home in a separate locked room out of public view.

Pritzker and other lawmakers who worked on the measure have estimated that it would expunge 800,000 misdemeanor and Class 4 felony marijuana convictions. "Illinois lawmakers must take a smart, commonsense approach, and not welcome in another addiction-for-profit industry into the state".

From the outset, I made clear that any plan for adult use cannabis had to prioritize social justice and equity, and I'm proud that IL is going to have the most equity-centric law in the country.

Pritzker campaigned on the issue and is counting on $170 million from recreational marijuana licensing fees in his proposed state budget. He's said future revenue from legal marijuana will help IL address some of its deep financial problems.

The bill lays out a comprehensive taxation plan and details how the funds would be allocated: 35 percent to the state General Revenue Fund, 25 percent to the ROC program, 20 percent for mental health and substance abuse services, 10 percent for the state's backlog of unpaid bills, 8 percent for law enforcement training, and 2 percent to the Drug Treatment Fund for public education.

"More importantly, it allows IL the opportunity to put an end to a long overdue and unjust drug policy that has disproportionately affected Chicago's black and brown neighborhoods for decades", Lightfoot said.

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