Illinois Poised to be 11th State to Legalize Marijuana Use

Illinois Poised to be 11th State to Legalize Marijuana Use

Original article was posted on Green State: Illinois Poised to be 11th State to Legalize Marijuana Use

Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, throws her fist in the air as she celebrates with Illinois state Senator Heather Steans, D-Chicago, left, and Rep. Jehan Gordon-Booth, D-Peoria, as they watch the final votes come in for their bill to legalize recreational marijuana use in the Illinois House chambers Friday, May 31, 2019. The 66-47 vote sends the bill to Gov. J.B. Pritzker who indicated he will sign it. (Ted Schurter/The State Journal-Register via AP)

[Canniseur: YES!!! It appears Illinois will take the U.S. to over 20% for legal adult use cannabis. The best part of the legalization bill are the “equity-centric” provisions outlined in the legislation. This is a first in the U.S. and hopefully a model for other states to follow that either use a ballot initiative to legalize adult use of like Illinois legislate adult use. When Gov. Pritzker signs the legislation, Illinois will be the second state, after Vermont, to legalize via legislative action rather than a ballot initiative.]

by John O’Connor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois is likely to become the 11th state to allow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use after the Democratic-controlled House on Friday sent a legalization plan to Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who campaigned on the issue.

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Those 21 and older would be able to buy marijuana at licensed dispensaries beginning next year under the legislation approved on a vote of 66-47. Residents could possess up to 1 ounce (30 grams) and non-residents could have 15 grams.

Illinois would become the second state to endorse the idea through its legislature, following Vermont last year. Ten states and the District of Columbia have dropped pot prohibitions, mostly through ballot initiatives.

But the Illinois plan also became a social justice initiative as black lawmakers and activists stepped in to see that legalization reversed decades of inordinate treatment of minorities in narcotics crackdowns. The legislation provides for scrubbing of past low-level criminal convictions and boosts minority involvement in a nascent industry.

“It is time to hit the ‘reset’ button on the War on Drugs,” the proposal’s sponsor, Chicago Democratic Rep. Kelly Cassidy, said. “We have an opportunity today to set the gold standard for a regulated market that centers on equity and repair.”

Pritzker called for legalization in his campaign for governor, arguing for its tax-revenue potential and for freeing police to enforce more serious crimes. He claimed there would be $170 million in licensing fees in the first year and a fully established industry could produce up to $1 billion annually in state tax revenue. But Cassidy said Friday the first year’s take would be $58 million and the state could expect $500 million in five years.

The vote came on the last day of the General Assembly’s spring session, which got extended in part because of the 3 ½-hour marijuana debate. House leaders, noting the “volume of workload,” announced that session would continue at least through Sunday. The Senate had not announced schedule changes.

Legislation after May 31 requires three-fifths majority approval. But Democrats hold supermajorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, allowing Pritzker to take office in January with an expansive agenda following four years of stalemate between legislative leaders and Pritzker’s vanquished predecessor, Republican Bruce Rauner.

The marijuana measure allows the governor to pardon anyone with records of convictions for possession of 30 grams or less. It eases record-clearing for possession up to one pound (500 grams) and some intent-to-deliver convictions. Minority-owned businesses would be given advantages in bidding for lucrative state licenses and offered low-interest loans to compete.

“The state of Illinois just made history, legalizing adult-use cannabis with the most equity-centric approach in the nation,” Pritzker said in a statement. “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.”

Both sides in the debate traded summaries of studies that differ on the impact of using the psychoactive drug, with opponents claiming it’s a gateway to stronger drugs and that it can have ill effects, including producing psychosis.

“No matter how you package this, whether it’s revenue, or it’s criminal justice reform, or it’s just saying that people are smoking it anyway, so just give up, I can pretty much guarantee you where we’re going to be in 10 years … and it’s not going to be good,” said Democratic Rep. Anthony DeLuca of Chicago Heights.

He then produced an egg and cracked it into a frying pan, recreating a famous 1980s public service announcement which suggested the frying egg represents “your brain on drugs.”

Originally intending to let anyone grow five marijuana plants at home for personal consumption, law enforcement opposition prompted Cassidy to restrict the five-plant home-grow limit only to qualified medical-marijuana patients.

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Private property owners could restrict use. Landlords could ban marijuana on their property. And employers would still be allowed to maintain “zero tolerance” policies toward marijuana use and the workplace.

In other work, lawmakers were crafting a spending plan of about $39 billion and a $41.5 billion state construction program. It looked as if revenue for a building program would depend on a massive expansion of casino gambling , which itself appeared to be the means for resuscitating a dormant proposal to legalize sports betting.

Statutory protections for abortion in the face of strict restrictions on the practice in Republican-led states have House OK and await Senate action.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original article was posted on Green State: Illinois Poised to be 11th State to Legalize Marijuana Use

Maine Wants to Develop ‘Craft Cannabis’ Market, Regulating Sales Like Alcohol

Maine Wants to Develop ‘Craft Cannabis’ Market, Regulating Sales Like Alcohol

Original article was posted on Green State: Maine Wants to Develop ‘Craft Cannabis’ Market, Regulating Sales Like Alcohol

FILE – The Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine Campaign Manager David Boyer speaks on Monument Square to begin their petition drive in Portland, ME on June 4, 2015 | Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

[Canniseur: There are some good ideas in here about how to regulate a cannabis market and keep out the big companies. In the long term, Maine will also need the big companies to supply the developing market. The politicians who have been dragging their feet for almost two years on this and it’s about time Maine got its act together.]

Maine’s proposed rules about recreational marijuana call for the people who grow, manufacture and sell pot and pot products to be homegrown.

The state released its long-awaited draft rules about the marijuana program late Monday, and the proposal would limit licenses to residents of the state for the first two years. The draft stated Maine would only give licenses to grow and sell marijuana to people who have lived in the Pine Tree State and filed income tax returns there for four years, and that standard would apply until June 2021.

Residents voted in favor of legalizing marijuana in 2016, but crafting the rules has been a long and sometimes contentious process, and proponents of legalization said the emergence of a legal framework for sales and production of marijuana is a major step forward. The proposed rules will be subject to public comment and must survive legislative approval before they can go into effect.

It’s still hard to say exactly when marijuana could be available in stores, but the time is coming, said Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce, a member of the state Marijuana Advisory Commission.

“I am most anxious to get these rules passed, because we need to get the adult market up and running because the diversion market is exploding,” Pierce said. “The longer we wait without passing rules, the greater the black market becomes.”

Maine already has a long-established medical marijuana program. It’s also currently legal to grow marijuana for personal recreational use in the state. Other states that have launched recreational marijuana markets have also prioritized state residents for licenses, said David Heidrich, director of engagement and community outreach for the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy.

Putting state residents first would allow the state to develop a “craft cannabis” market, said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which lobbied for legalization.

“The draft rules allow for Maine’s existing businesses to operate and give the little guy a shot,” Boyer said. “The market will grow, just as it has with craft brewing.”

Legalization of recreational marijuana in Maine has faced numerous delays in the nearly 2½ years since voters approved the idea in a statewide vote. Former Gov. Paul LePage, a Republican, was an opponent of legalization, which made implementing laws difficult until his term ended last year. His successor, Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, has been more supportive of implementing legalization.

More recently, the state ran into trouble approving a contract with a consultant to help write the rules. The contract ultimately went to Freedman & Koski of Colorado, while another firm, BOTEC Analysis of Los Angeles, was hired to analyze the proposed regulations.

A final version of the draft rules is expected within about two weeks. Scott Gagnon, a member of the state marijuana commission, said he would like to see the rules about advertising and packaging tightened.

Gagnon was director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, which fought against the legalization drive. He said the draft rules for the most part ensured “the hard work we did advocating for public health was still there.”

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Original article was posted on Green State: Maine Wants to Develop ‘Craft Cannabis’ Market, Regulating Sales Like Alcohol

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