Pritzker outlines pot plan: Bill would allow possession up to 30 grams and up to 5 plants at home
CHICAGO – A proposed law to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Illinois would allow possession of up to 30 grams of the plant for residents 21 and over, a $20 million low-interest loan program to promote “social equity” in business ownership, and expungement of misdemeanor and Class 4 felony marijuana convictions.
At the heart of the measure is ensuring that communities that have been disproportionately affected by enforcement of lower-level drug crimes would be able to benefit from the legal pot business in Illinois, said Gov. J.B. Pritzker and lawmakers who worked on the measure at an announcement Saturday morning.
“Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation,” Pritzker said at the Black United Fund of Illinois on Chicago’s South Side.
The governor and lawmakers touted a central social justice provision of their proposal: Expunging what they estimate would be 800,000 low-level drug convictions. Revenue from Illinois’ marijuana industry would be reinvested in communities that lawmakers said have been “devastated” by the nation’s war on drugs.
Under the proposed rules, no new large-scale commercial growers would be permitted to set up shop here, at least for now. Instead, the focus would be on small “craft” growers, with an emphasis on helping people of color become entrepreneurs in the weed industry. In addition, adults would be allowed to grow up to five plants per household, in a locked room out of public view, with the permission of the landowner.
“We have to ensure it’s not a small group of people getting very rich,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, one of the measure’s sponsors. “We want to make a lot of new business leaders in the state through this process.”
Those who treat substance abuse warned of an increase in addiction if marijuana use is made legal.
A group that opposes legalization said the bill would usher in an “addiction-for-profit industry” that it said will have “devastating impacts on citizens.” Smart Approaches to Marijuana supports efforts to slow down on legalization.
“Marijuana is not inevitable,” Kevin Sabet, the president and founder of SAM, said in a written statement.