Illinois becomes 11th state to allow recreational marijuana. What does that mean for Iowans?

Gov. JB Pritzker signed a bill Tuesday legalizing adult-use cannabis, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize the drug.

“Our state has spent more money per capita on cannabis possession enforcement than almost every other state,” Pritzker said. “Illinoisans have had enough. They know that what we’re doing isn’t working.”

Starting Jan. 1, 2020, Illinois residents 21 and older can possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flowers, five grams of cannabis concentrate and no more than 500 mg of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product.

Non-residents can possess up to half the amount of what residents can.

“When I look at the data, it’s clear; prohibition does not work,” Rep. David Welter, R-Morris, said.

This law will expunge roughly 700,000 records of people with minor cannabis violations.

By legalizing marijuana, the state can slap a tax on it, and it’s estimated to eventually rack up $500 million a year in revenue. The governor plans to take 25 percent of the marijuana tax revenue and put it toward local businesses that sell cannabis in predominantly black and brown neighborhoods. This is part of the Recover, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program that invests in communities held victim by the decades-long war on drugs.

At the signing ceremony, Pritzker said, “This legalization of adult use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Illinois joins 10 other states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington.

Recreational marijuana use remains illegal in Iowa.

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Here’s what Iowans should know about the new Illinois law and what it might mean for you:

What does the law allow?

Illinois residents will be able to purchase up 1 ounce of raw cannabis as well as cannabis-infused products, such as edibles or tinctures, that contain no more than 500 milligrams of THC, the chemical that makes users high.

Can Iowans buy marijuana in Illinois?

Non-Illinois residents, including Iowans, can purchase and possess half the amount residents are allowed to possess.

Just don’t bring it back across state lines.

The possession and sale of marijuana are still illegal at the federal level as well as in Iowa. Selling marijuana in the state is currently a felony, punishable by up to 50 years in prison.

Will there be marijuana dispensaries in Illinois?

Yes. Licensed dispensaries will be the only place where you can legally buy recreational marijuana if the law goes into effect.

Illinois, which began selling medical marijuana in 2015, now has 55 such dispensaries. Those dispensaries can apply to sell pot for recreational use, too, and the new law also allows them to open a second location for that purpose.

According to The Chicago Tribune, some dispensaries are already planning building expansions, staffing increases and new technology to handle the recreational marijuana customers and an expected increase in medical marijuana sales.

Where could you legally use recreational weed in Illinois?

Under the new law, people will be able to smoke or consume edibles in their homes, as well as in certain cannabis-related businesses.

However, marijuana use will still be prohibited in these places:

  • Any public place, including streets or parks.
  • In motor vehicles.
  • Near someone under 21.
  • On school grounds, except for medical marijuana users.
  • Its use also could be prohibited on private properties, at the owners’ discretion.

What’s the marijuana situation in Iowa?

The medical cannabidiol act was first passed in 2014 and updated in 2017 to include a manufacturing and dispensary system.

This spring, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill that would have further expanded the program, removing a 3% cap on THC in medical marijuana products.

However, the legislation was vetoed by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds last month.

“Ultimately, I believe Iowa must proceed cautiously to ensure that any expansion of our medical (cannabidiol) program is thoughtful and deliberate,” Reynolds said.

What does the federal government say about marijuana?

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but since 2014, federal prosecutors have generally ignored marijuana sales in the states that have legalized its use.

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