By LeeWEpstein

January 2, 2020

The New Year’s Day ushered in a new era for cannabis in Illinois, which became the 11th state in the United States to legalize adult cannabis. In a strong sign, Juliana Stratton, Lieutenant Governor of the state, was one of the first clients after the clinics opened.

New rules in Illinois

As of 1 January, 2020, cannabis and cannabis products are legal for any adult over the age of 21. Illinois residents are allowed to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flowers, 5 grams of concentrates and 500mg of THC contained in cannabis-infused products, these limits being cumulative. Non-residents are limited to half of these quantities as long as they have a valid identity card or passport.

Patients may possess up to 70 grams (2.5 ounces) at home, and grow 5 cannabis plants as long as they are in a secure location. The legalization of cannabis has not changed the rules for entry into the state’s medical cannabis program.

Sales began on 1 January at 6 a.m., bringing large crowds to the doors of the 35 currently licensed dispensaries. So far, only some medical dispensaries have been licensed to distribute “recreational” cannabis. The quantities sold at the retail level are therefore likely to be restricted to avoid too great a shortage, at least initially, and flowers will be favored for medical users.

Cannabis consumption can only be done at home and is prohibited in public places. Cannabis can be transported by car, as long as it is in a closed and relatively secure container. However, it will be forbidden to carry cannabis in certain places such as schools or day-care centers. Any offense of possession or use will be punishable by a fine of $50 the first time and $100 if it is the second offense in less than 30 days.

An industry that will grow

Sales will initially be limited by the number of dispensaries, only 10 for the Chicago area for example, which has over 2 million residents of the consumer age. However, 75 dispensaries could open by May, with the necessary licenses for growers and processors (extractors or manufacturers of finished products). Illinois’ goal is to open 110 by the end of 2021.

Cannabis lounges will be allowed in the state, but will not be allowed to serve food.

Cannabis will be taxed based on THC content: 10% on products with less than 35% THC and 25% above, and 20% on all infused products. Medical cannabis will continue not to be taxed.

Cannabis sales could generate up to $57 million in tax revenue by the end of 2020, and over $375 million by 2024. Most of this will go to the state and will be used to repair the “economic disinvestment, violence and historical overuse of the criminal justice system” generated by cannabis prohibition.

The money will fund grants for economic development or violence prevention services in historically marginalized areas.

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