Marijuana Legalization is coming soon to Illinois- Here’s the Bill that could finish the process

About three weeks ago, Governor J.B. Pritzker and his allies revealed their planned bill for Recreational Marijuana legalization. The proposed legislation is an amendment to Senate Bill 7 and one of its main features is allowing persons over the age of 21 to possess up to 30 grams at a time and to grow up to 5 plants in their homes. Julie Tappendorf over at Municipal Minute was kind enough do a brief outline of some of the other main functions of the Bill. I’m just going to look at each of these purposes and do a little analysis on each of them as well.

The first part of the bill that Tappendorf covers regards local communities abilities to prohibit Marijuana businesses from being established. Under the new legislation, communities can limit or outright prohibit Marijuana dispensaries from being established, along with cultivation centers, craft growers, processing organizations, and transportation organizations. The only catch to this is that these communities have to enact these restrictions within one year of the referenced Bill being passed. Otherwise if they try to enact these restrictions past that period, a referendum needs to be passed. Frankly i’m a little surprised that the bill is giving communities the option of outright prohibiting Marijuana dispensaries in their towns. I would be less surprised if the communities tried to outright prohibit persons from home growing, since that seems to be the police’s biggest issue in regards to the dangers of legalization. I guess though that these local governments have more power over the businesses that can and can’t be in their town than they do over what people do in their own homes.

Next we get to a similar function of the Bill: Communities regulatory powers over Marijuana dispensaries. Basically local governments can regulate the locations where dispensaries are located given that they don’t infringe on the language of the bill or on the private citizens ability to home grow. Again I find the home grow part interesting, as it seems this bill is making a point to emphasize that people must have a right to be able grow in their homes, even more so than businesses having a right to sell Marijuana to people. Some prohibited locations will include sensitive places where the local government feels there is a danger to them if they are near Dispensaries.  The bill also allows local governments to regulate the time in which these dispensaries are established, and how many are being established. Finally, here’s Tappendorf’s conclusion on this part of the bill, which emphasizes home growing once again: “The current bill also expressly allows local governments to regulate cannabis businesses through the use of conditional (special) use permits. While the bill allows local governments some regulatory authority, the bill prohibits local governments from regulating cannabis businesses in a more restrictive manner than allowed under the Act. Importantly, this prohibition includes an express home rule preemption.” So the new bill will loosen the regulations currently in place on dispensaries, but I still wouldn’t exactly call these regulations “loose,” just “looser.” But the home grow part again intrigues me, this bill definitely does not want to mess with people rights to home grow.

Now we arrive at the tangle of employment policies and how Marijuana legalization will affect those. The basic summary is that Employers under the new bill would have the right to create a reasonable, non discriminatory Marijuana policy(Basically no Marijuana allowed at work/Don’t be high) and can terminate employees if they do not follow that policy. The bill also gets into when an employer may have reasonable belief that an employee is under the influence of Cannabis which I find is a fascinating and potentially dangerous angle. Can employers make up some bogus reasoning that they think one of their employees is high and then use that to get them fired for that? Employers across America seem to be always looking to get one over on their employees and this may allow them another vehicle to do so. I will remain to be seen and clarified on exactly what employers need to prove to show that their employees are under the influence

This next part is the briefest thankfully and it has to do with taxation. Communities under the new bill may propose a local tax on dispensaries, although the rate of tax cannot exceed 3% of the dispensaries gross receipts from the sale of recreational cannabis. Nothing too crazy or noteworthy here.

Finally, we get to one of the most important part of legalization: Expunging criminal records that were based on Marijuana offenses. The Illinois State Police and States Attorney’s office will be in charge of the initial proceedings of expungement and hopefully they sincerely follow through. After these initial expungements, local law enforcement will have to expunge records regarding arrests for minor Marijuana violations within 60 days of notice from the Illinois State police.

In conclusion, this seems like an actually good bill. I’m impressed by the Bills emphasis on protecting home growing and expunging records for Marijuana offenses. It’ll be interesting to see if this passes the House, Senate, and Governor to come into being. It would finally put an end to this endless debate.

Here’s the link to the full Bill: http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/101/SB/PDF/10100SB0007sam001.pdf


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