The Senate Executive Committee advanced to the full Senate legislation that would legalize the adult recreational use of marijuana and direct the governor to pardon people with past convictions for low-level pot possession.
“We know prohibition is not working,” said state Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, the longtime sponsor of efforts to legalize cannabis. “It’s time to come up with a better policy. We want social justice, safety for our kids and the state to realize additional revenue.”
The measure, which advanced on a 13-3 bipartisan vote, would allow state residents age 21 and above to possess 30 grams of marijuana for their personal use and 15 grams by non-Illinois residents from licensed cannabis dispensaries.
It would restrict homegrown plants for personal use to those who are medically certified marijuana-qualified patients. They would be entitled to have five plants.
The bill would allow employers to maintain a “zero tolerance” policy for cannabis at the workplace and would create a task force through the Illinois State Police to examine ways to enforce DUI laws involving marijuana use.
The measure directs Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a supporter of the legislation, to provide pardons for previous convictions of up to 30 grams of marijuana solely involving possession that were unrelated to other crimes. It also would provide for local prosecutorial review of those seeking expungements of their criminal record.
Pardon and expungement procedures in earlier legislation had caused concern among some Republicans who otherwise had been willing to support the measure. They contended previous legislation created an unconstitutional pardon and expungement procedure authorized by lawmakers who do not have the power.
State Sen. Toi Hutchinson, D-Chicago, called the new language “a much more robust constitutional procedure.”
The proposal would set the licensing fee for the largest cultivators at $750,000, up from $500,000 in the initial proposal.
Steans said legalizing marijuana is expected to generate $57 million in general revenue in the coming budget year. That’s far less than the $170 million Pritzker projected in his spending plan, but Steans said budget negotiators aren’t counting on any of that revenue.
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May 29, 2019 at 05:27PM