Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize recreational weed - wiping up to 700,000 marijuana convictions - as it expects to generate over $57 million in taxes to pay off debts

Illinois on Tuesday became the 11th US state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults. 
Governor J.B. Pritzker signed into law a bill that legalizes usage and sales for over-21s from licensed dispensaries as of January 1.
It is projected to generate over $57 million in new tax and fee revenue in the fiscal year of 2020. 
It also erases up to 700,000 marijuana-related convictions, which Democratic governor Pritzker applauded at a bill-signing event.

'This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, of gubernatorial pardon and individual court action,' Pritzker said. 
'Today, we're giving hundreds of thousands of people the chance at a better life.' 
Illinois is the second state (after Vermont in 2018) to legalize small amounts of marijuana for adult use solely through the legislative process.
It is the first to authorize retail sales of the substance legislatively.  

Since 2012, voters in nine states and the District of Columbia approved legalization measures: Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and Michigan.
Marijuana-related bills were considered in 25 state legislatures this year, including in New York and New Jersey.
But Illinois is the only one to enact a measure so far, according to advocacy group Marijuana Policy Project.
Marijuana-related tax revenue is estimated to climb to $140.5 million in fiscal 2021 and to $375.5 million in fiscal 2024, according to Illinois' revenue department.
Some of the proceeds after administrative and other expenses are earmarked for drug prevention, public safety, and programs in disadvantaged communities.
Thirty-five percent will flow into Illinois' general fund.
But a crucial 10 percent will go to paying off the state's huge pile of overdue bills, which totaled $6.6 billion on Tuesday. 
The use of marijuana for medical purposes in Illinois was authorized starting in 2014.

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