Illinois' new governor delivered on a top campaign promise Tuesday by signing legislation legalizing small amounts of marijuana for recreational use, making the state the 11th to do so and the first to implement a statewide cannabis marketplace designed by legislators, reports the Associated Press.
Legalization in Illinois also means that nearly 800,000 people with criminal records for purchasing or possessing 30 grams of marijuana or less may have those records expunged, a provision minority lawmakers and interest groups demanded. It also gives cannabis-vendor preference to minority owners and promises 25 percent of tax revenue from marijuana sales to redevelop impoverished communities.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker, whose election last year gave Democrats complete control over state government again after four years under GOP predecessor Bruce Rauner, signed the bill in Chicago amid a bevy of lawmakers and pot proponents.
Under the measure, residents can purchase and possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) of marijuana at a time. Nonresidents could have up to 15 grams. The law provides for cannabis purchases by adults 21 and older at approved dispensaries, which, after they're licensed and established, may start selling Jan. 1, 2020. That means possession remains a crime until Jan. 1, a spokesman for Senate Democrats said.