What you need to know about marijuana legalization in Illinois

What you need to know about marijuana legalization in Illinois

Answers to frequently asked questions about Illinois’ cannabis legalization law.

Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use, after Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June signed the bill into law that takes effect today.

Here are the answers to commonly asked questions about what the new law means for Illinoisans:

When can I buy marijuana in Illinois?

Consumers can buy marijuana for recreational use from licensed sellers, as of Jan. 1, 2020.

Who can buy marijuana?

Consumers aged 21 and older can buy marijuana products from licensed sellers in Illinois – with or without a medical marijuana card.

Who can sell marijuana legally?

Medical marijuana dispensaries are the only legal sellers of marijuana for recreational use in January 2020. Beginning in mid-2020, Illinois will grant additional licenses to dozens of new stores, processors, cultivators and transporters.

Up to 295 stores could be in operation in Illinois by 2022, according to Marijuana Business Daily. But county and municipal governments will have the power to decide whether to allow sellers to operate in their area.

How much can I possess?

Illinoisans can legally possess 30 grams, or about an ounce, of cannabis flower. The legal limit for cannabis concentrate is 5 grams. And the limit for cannabis-infused products, such as edibles or tinctures, is 500 milligrams of THC, the chemical that gets users high. Illinois visitors are allowed to possess half of those amounts.

Where can I smoke legally?

It is legal to smoke in one’s own home and on-site in some cannabis-related businesses.

Use is prohibited in:

  • Any public place, such as streets or parks
  • In any motor vehicle
  • On school grounds, with the exception of medical users
  • Near someone under the age of 21
  • Near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer

Any person, business or landlord can prohibit use on private property. Illinois colleges and universities are also allowed to ban marijuana use.

Can I grow marijuana?

Medical marijuana patients are allowed to grow five plants at a time. But non-patients are not allowed to grow marijuana at home – punishable by a civil penalty of $200 for growing up to five plants.

Only Illinois’ 20 existing licensed medical marijuana cultivation facilities will be licensed to grow marijuana initially. In 2020, “craft growers” will be able to apply for licenses to cultivate up to 5,000 square feet.

How will it be taxed?

Purchases of cannabis flower or products with less than 35% THC are slapped with a 10% sales tax. Cannabis-infused products such as edibles come with a 20% tax. Products with a THC concentration higher than 35% come with a 25% tax. Illinois municipalities and counties are able to levy additional local sales taxes.

The new law also imposes a 7% gross receipts tax on the sale of marijuana from cultivators to dispensaries – a cost that will likely be passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices.

What happens to criminal records related to marijuana?

People convicted for possession of under 30 grams of marijuana prior to legalization will have their records referred to the state’s Prisoner Review Board and then to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for a pardon – as long as those convictions were not associated with a violent crime. If the governor grants the pardon, the Illinois attorney general would then seek expungement.

Those convicted for possession between 30 to 500 grams have the option of petitioning for expungement themselves. Local state’s attorneys can also pursue expungement for those convictions on a case-by-case basis.

On Dec. 31, Pritzker pardoned more than 11,000 people convicted of low-level marijuana offenses.

What about driving under the influence?

Illinois already has a law on the books that makes drivers with THC blood concentration of five nanograms or more per milliliter guilty of driving under the influence, regardless of whether the driver is impaired. The new law creates a DUI Task Force led by Illinois State Police to examine best practices for roadside testing.

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