This week, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, signed a bill that will legalize marijuana for recreational use throughout the state. Illinois will now be the 11th state in the US to legalize the substance for recreational use. The bill will allow residents of the state to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis at a time. Non-residents will be limited to just 15 grams.
“Change is hard, but an essential tenet of good governance is recognizing the need to change the laws that have failed. In the past 50 years, the war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities,” Pritzker said during a press conference before he signed the bill.
“With this legislation, our state once again is a leader, putting forward the most equity-centric cannabis legalization in the nation,” he added.
The bill also goes a step further to expunge the criminal records for anyone who was arrested for purchasing or possessing 30 grams or less.
The new law will go into effect on January 1, 2020, and will allow adults over the age of 21 to purchase the plant from approved dispensaries. However, until then, possession will still be a crime in the state.
The governor initially projected that taxation of cannabis industry could generate $800 million to $1 billion a year, but more recent estimations suggest that $500 million annually is a more realistic number, and it could take the state at least 5 years to get to that point.
As with cannabis in most other legal US states, the sales will be taxed heavily. Consumers in Illinois can expect a tax of up to 34.75% on all of their purchases. The taxes will reportedly fluctuate depending on the potency of the product.
Money raised by the new taxes would first be dedicated to expunging about 770,000 minor cannabis-related cases, according to USA Today.
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There were also provisions in the bill intending to prevent monopolization and corruption in the newly legal cannabis industry. For example, a conflict of interest provision bans state employees and their family members from being able to get a cannabis business license for at least two years.
The industry will also bring many new jobs to the state as it has in other areas where cannabis has been legalized.
A 2015 study, published in the journal, ‘Scientific Reports,’ suggests that smoking cannabis is roughly 114 times safer than drinking alcohol. Ironically, out of all the drugs that were researched in the study, alcohol was actually the most dangerous, and it was the only legal drug on the list.
A study published last year by researchers at the University of Michigan has shown that cannabis use among teens and college students is increasing while alcohol and tobacco use is declining. In fact, for the first time ever, the rate of daily cannabis use has now surpassed the rate of daily cigarette use. This is a great discovery considering the fact that cigarettes and alcohol kill tens of thousands a year while marijuana kills no one.
Earlier this year, Truth Theory reported that The World Health Organization (WHO) has finally recognized cannabis as a medicine and has formally proposed that legislators take a “more rational” approach to drug laws.
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