Illinois recently became the 11th US state to legalize recreational cannabis. It’s now joined 10 other states, plus the District of Columbia in rolling back laws introduced over 80 years ago. Illinois legalizing recreational weed is a big deal for the US. It’s home to Chicago, the third-largest city, and overall the 6th largest state by population. This also makes Illinois the 2nd most populous state to have legalized recreational cannabis, behind California. If (when) New York state legalizes, this will bump them down to 3rd largest, but that hasn’t happened yet.
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The New Laws for Illinois Cannabis
Although the law amendments have been passed, these changes don’t come into affect until January 1, 2020. Like other states, you must be 21 years of age to buy cannabis through a licensed dispensary, and smoking won’t be permitted in public.
If you’re an existing medical marijuana patient, you’ll also be allowed to grow up to 5 plants, provided this is done on private property. Unfortunately for the rest of the public, licensed dispensaries will be the only legal way to acquire cannabis.
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Criminal Conviction Changes
With these changes coming into effect through the Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act in 2020, previous convictions involving less than 30 grams will be expunged. Over 30 grams, but less than 500 grams, the individual can petition the court to have these charges removed. These changes are predicted to have an effect on approximately 770,000 residents of Illinois.
Dispensaries for Illinois Cannabis
Currently, there are 5 dispensaries that have been approved to sell cannabis recreationally come January 1, 2020. Dispensaries in Joliet, Naperville, and Mundelein in the Chicago suburbs have all been approved. Canton and Effingham also have approved dispensaries. These approved dispensaries all currently exist as medical cannabis dispensaries.
If you don’t live near any of the above places, don’t worry, as these are only the first approvals granted. Many more are expected to happen between now and January 1st next year. It is worth noting however that although the state has legalized, local government can still prohibit the sale of cannabis. Some lawmakers are urging local governments not to do this however, as this would just increase demand on the black market for cannabis in Illinois.