By John O’Connor, Associated Press
(AP) — Illinois is likely to become the 11th state to allow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use after the Democratic-controlled House on May 31 sent a legalization plan to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature. Gov. Pritzker sought marijuana legalization when campaigning to be governor.
Those 21 and older would be able to buy marijuana at licensed dispensaries beginning next year under the legislation approved on a vote of 66-47. Residents could possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) and non-residents could have 15 grams.
Originally intending to let anyone grow five marijuana plants at home for personal consumption, law enforcement opposition prompted lawmakers to restrict the five-plant home-grow limit only to qualified medical marijuana patients.
Private property owners could restrict use. Landlords could ban marijuana on their property. And employers would still be allowed to maintain “zero tolerance” policies toward marijuana use and the workplace.
“It is time to hit the ‘reset’ button on the War on Drugs,” the proposal’s sponsor, Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, said. “We have an opportunity today to set the gold standard for a regulated market that centers on equity and repair.”
Pritzker called for legalization in his campaign for governor, arguing for its tax-revenue potential and for freeing police to enforce more serious crimes. He claimed there would be $170 million in licensing fees in the first year and a fully established industry could produce up to $1 billion annually in state tax revenue.
The vote came on the last day of the General Assembly’s spring session, which got extended in part because of the 3 ½-hour marijuana debate.
Illinois would become the second state to endorse the idea through its legislature, following Vermont last year. Ten states and the District of Columbia have dropped pot prohibitions, mostly through ballot initiatives.
AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli