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Illinois Senate approves recreational Cannabis use

The Illinois Senate has approved legalized recreational marijuana use.

Illinois lawmakers working to legalize recreational marijuana hit a snag that other states have wrestled with: whether to allow people to grow a few pot plants for personal use.

The 10 states that have legalized recreational marijuana have different “home grow” rules, with Michigan allowing individuals to grow as many as 12 plants and Washington state not allowing them to grow any.

The question in Illinois was settled Wednesday night when the Senate approved recreational use of marijuana after universal home cultivation of the plant was replaced by a provision allowing only medical-marijuana patients to grow their own.

Restrictions on home cultivation and a tightened process for clearing past pot convictions helped move the plan to passage. The Democratic-led chamber approved it 38-17 Wednesday night.

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The measure would allow residents 21 and older to buy marijuana from licensed dispensaries. Possession of up to once ounce (30 grams) would be allowed for residents. Non-residents could possess 15 grams.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans originally proposed allowing anyone to keep five plants in their homes. Steans’ final version allows only the 65,000 Illinois patients qualified for the medical-cannabis law to grow their own.

Those convicted in the past of possession of 30 grams or less could have their records expunged. Steans tightened provisions for clearing convictions of 30 to 500 grams which Republicans requested.

The Democratic-controlled House must approve the plan before Friday’s scheduled adjournment . Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigned on legalizing recreational use.

Steve Stelter, who heads the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said law enforcement would be hard-pressed to monitor compliance in people’s homes.

“We’re not going to walk up to a house and peek in the windows everywhere. How are we going to know?” asked Stelter, who heads the police force in the Chicago suburb of Westchester.

The home grow issue is often overshadowed by other aspects of legalization, such as who gets lucrative dispensary licenses and what should be done about people’s past pot-related convictions. But the issue resonates with users looking to save money and to take charge of what they put in their body.

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