Illinois’s Democratic governor and state lawmakers unveiled legislation over the weekend to legalize recreational marijuana for residents aged 21 and older, expunge roughly 800,000 drug convictions, and establish a $20 million low-interest loan program to help “social equity applicants” enter the licensed cannabis industry.
Gov. JB Pritzker detailed the bill’s provisions at an announcement event at the office of the Black United Fund of Illinois in Chicago Saturday.
“We are taking a major step forward to legalize adult use cannabis and to celebrate the fact that Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation,” said the governor.
Pritzker thanked those who have advocated for cannabis legislation that focuses on social equity while acknowledging those negatively impacted by state and federal drug laws.
“For the many individuals and families whose lives have been changed, indeed hurt, because the nation’s war on drugs discriminated against people of color,” he said, “this day belongs to you, too.”
If approved by state lawmakers, the 300-page bill would fulfill the first-term governor’s campaign pledge “to legalize marijuana, reduce mass incarceration, and reinvest in Illinois communities” that have been “hit hardest by the war on drugs.”
The legislation, which Democratic state Rep. Kelly Cassidy and state Sen. Heather Steans plan to introduce on Monday, would make Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
Specifically, it would allow Illinoisans to grow up to five cannabis plants in their homes, with certain restrictions, according to a summary from the governor’s office.
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