And it’s doing it right.
On June 25, 2019, HB 1438 was signed into law by Governor J.B Pritzker, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over. The provisions of the bill make up what is considered to be the “most sweeping criminal justice reform” in the history of the cannabis industry thus far.
The bill went into effect in the new year, and sales began on January 1, 2020. In just the first week of legal sales, nearly $11 million worth of cannabis was sold in the state. Not a bad way to ring in the new decade.
Cannabis legalization will undoubtedly prove to be a boon to Illinois’ economy. But the bill is much, much more than that– without a doubt, HB 1438 is the most progressive, comprehensive cannabis reform bill that the US has seen since the establishment of the legalization movement itself. It’s a landmark in terms of its provisions for social equity and criminal justice reform, making this state an example to be followed as more and more states continue to legalize nation-wide.
In this post, we’ll explore the key provisions of Bill 1438 and what they mean for the Prairie State.
Illinois residents can purchase up to 30 grams of raw cannabis flower; and cannabis-infused products or products totaling up to 500 mg of THC, and up to five grams of cannabis product in concentrated form.
Non-residents may legally purchase half the amount as Illinoisans: up to 15 grams of raw cannabis flower, up to 250 mg of THC within cannabis-infused products, and up to 2.5 grams of concentrated cannabis extracts (also known as dabs).
Like in the state of Oregon, cannabis use is limited to private-residences only– no public consumption is allowed.
The State of Illinois has said that it will expunge the records of people convicted of nonviolent cannabis-related crimes involving 30 grams of cannabis or less.
For convictions involving over 30 grams of cannabis, expungement will still be possible, just not automatic: convicted individuals will have to complete a court petition process to clear their records. All in all, close to 800,000 individuals’ records will be eligible for expungement.
The bill goes way, way beyond just expunging records. It actually goes so far as to provide resources to groups disadvantaged by the Drug War who want to start businesses in the cannabis space.
HB 1438 created a social equity loan system, created specifically to assist those who have most disproportionately suffered as a result of the Drug War in an effort to balance out the scales and prevent the influx of white-collar capital from pushing out those who have been historically punished for cannabis cultivation and use.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, social equity loan applicants can be “people who have either been arrested or convicted of a cannabis-related offense or a person with strong ties to a community that has been disproportionately impacted by both poverty and cannabis drug law enforcement. Such a business must be owned by 51% or more of those who qualify, or for businesses with 10 or more staff, 51% of the workers must qualify.”
The bill also established a Cannabis Business Development Fund that provides financing for minority-owned start-ups, the option for local colleges to obtain permits for the establishment of cannabis industry job training programs, and pilot programs for low-income schools to train students interested in joining the cannabis workforce.
Home cultivation is legal for medical patients who can legally purchase cannabis seeds and grow up to five plants per household.
Cannabis taxation in the state of Illinois is dependent upon THC content:
On top of these rates, Illinois’ regular 6.25% sales tax rate also applies, as well as local taxes of up to 3.5%. So ultimately, customers will be paying between 19.55% to 34.75% tax at dispensary registers, depending on the THC potency of the products they’re buying.
The State of Illinois also created a revenue distribution structure to allocate funds earned from the sales of legal cannabis. The money will go to public education, law enforcement, the Recover, Reinvest, and Renew (3R) Program, mental health services and substance abuse programs, unpaid bills, and the Illinois General Revenue Fund.