Illinois Governor signs bill legalizing recreational marijuana

On June 27, it was reported that Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB 1438, which made possession of cannabis legal for those over the age of 21. The reform was designed to help those who were previously impacted by the state's marijuana laws. In addition to making marijuana legal, approximately 770,000 Illinois residents who have marijuana-related offenses on their permanent records may receive some relief. The passing of the bill makes Illinois the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

According to reports, the passing of the bill fulfills the promise Governor Pritzker made while on the campaign trial to legal marijuana. The bill, called the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, will allow people to receive clemency for drug convictions involving up to 30 grams of cannabis. For those who were convicted on drug charges involving up to 500 grams of cannabis, the bill allows for them to petition the court to have the charges lifted.

In addition to providing clemency, the bill includes a social equity program. This program makes it easier for those who have past marijuana-related convictions to get business licenses. Pilot programs to help low-income students get into the industry are also in the process of being created. According to the report, approximately $12 million is being allocated toward this program.

For those who were convicted on drug charges for possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana, there may be some relief for the impacts of the conviction, which may have included jail time, fines and the inability to seek loans or grants from the government. Beginning in 2020, a criminal law attorney may assist with petitioning the court to remove the conviction, which might make it easier for an accused person to seek gainful employment or other assistance that could improve his or her life.

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