Illinois House approves recreational marijuana bill; Pritzker expected to sign

The Illinois House voted Friday to approve a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana across the state.

The bill, which would go into effect Jan. 1, 2020, is heading to Gov. J.B. Pritzker's desk. He's expected to sign the measure into law.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation. This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance. I applaud bipartisan members of the General Assembly for their vote on this legislation and I especially want to thank the sponsors Senator Steans and Representative Cassidy, as well as Senator Hutchinson, Senator Aquino, Leader Gordon-Booth, Representative Villanueva, the Black and Latino Caucuses, and Senator Barickman and Representative Welter for their tremendous work to make legalization a reality. In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation," Gov. Pritzker said in a statement.

During his gubernatorial campaign, Pritzker said he would move to sign a marijuana legalization bill into law "nearly right away."

Pritzker can legalize recreational marijuana simply by signing legislation passed by lawmakers in the general assembly. Illinois residents do not have to vote to approve the measure.

The bill would allow Illinois residents over 21 years old to purchase and possess 30 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate along as edibles and cannabis-infused products with no more than 500 milligrams of THC. Out-of-state visitors would be able to purchase half of those amounts.

Medical marijuana patients would be able to grow five plants per household.

When the bill is signed into law, Illinois will become the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational pot.

“I definitely want to look at all those arrest records. If we’re going to legalize recreational marijuana, then we shouldn’t have all the, what I think are, challenges in our criminal justice system, you know, still existing, people sitting in prison for things that are currently legal,” Pritzker said.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx released the following statement:

“I applaud the Illinois General Assembly for passing legislation that legalizes recreational cannabis and provides conviction relief to hundreds of thousands of Illinoisans with low-level charges of cannabis possession. I am proud of the role the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office played in working to advance this legislation.

As prosecutors who implemented these convictions, we must own our role in the harm they have caused and we should play a role in reversing them. The failed war on drugs has disproportionately impacted communities of color, and my office will continue to explore ways to provide the broadest relief possible, beyond that provided by this legislation.

To all those who had a hand in this legislation, particularly Senators Steans and Hutchinson, and Representatives Cassidy and Gordon-Booth, congratulations. These women have worked tirelessly for years, leading the charge on drafting, advocating for, and now passing this historic legislation on behalf of Illinois residents.”