Statement below from Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A bill to legalize and regulate cannabis for adult use in Illinois passed in the state Senate Wednesday in a vote of 38-17. The bill, which removes several cannabis possession offenses from criminal histories, now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
“MPP is proud to have worked hand-in-hand with state lawmakers and Gov. Pritzker to develop this historic legislation,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which is leading advocacy efforts in support of the legislation. “This bill helps people remove the stigma and harm caused by prior cannabis possession convictions and creates opportunities for those who want to enter the new, regulated program.”
HB 1438, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, would legalize the possession and purchase of up to 30 grams of cannabis for adults and establish an inclusive, regulated market for cultivators, processors, transporters, retail stores, and testing labs. If enacted, adults could begin purchasing cannabis as early as January 1, 2020. In addition to legalizing possession and sales for adults, the bill adds the option for medical patients to grow cannabis at home and creates cannabis-related training opportunities at local community colleges.
Laws regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use have been enacted in nine states — including Michigan — and the U.S. territory of the Northern Mariana Islands. Vermont and D.C. are the only two U.S. jurisdictions where cannabis possession and cultivation is legal, but where the laws do not include regulated retail sales. If HB 1438 is enacted, Illinois will become the first state to approve legal cannabis sales through the state legislature rather than via a ballot measure.
Founded in 1995, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the nation’s leading cannabis policy reform organization. MPP has played a central role in passing dozens of cannabis policy reforms in states across the country, including 10 successful cannabis legalization campaigns, and also works to advance federal reforms.