Illinois Legislature First to Legalize Marijuana Sales

Illinois will legalize marijuana sales with legislation that would automatically expunge the criminal records of people convicted of minor pot possession, reports USA Today. Lawmakers gave final approval Friday and Gov. JB Pritzker will sign the measure, which will make Illinois the first state to legalize marijuana sales via its legislature. Most other states that have legalized cannabis did so via a ballot initiative. Vermont’s legislature legalized cannabis but prohibited commercial sales. “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,” Pritzker said. “In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation.”

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, but federal prosecutors have generally ignored marijuana sales in 10 states that had already legalized it: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Vermont and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. The Illinois law will go into effect Jan. 1. Adults may buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis “flower,” along with marijuana-infused foods known as edibles, and small amounts of highly concentrated extracts. The law establishes a system for taxing and regulating marijuana. Consumers would pay up to 34.75% tax on their purchases, depending on potency. Regulators would give preference points to members of minority groups seeking to get business licenses, and state-certified labs would test products for potency and contaminants. Several other states had considered but ultimately declined to act on legalization this year, including New York and New Jersey.

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