Illinois has become the 11th state in the US to legalise cannabis for recreational use.
A bill which allows the purchase and possession of cannabis was signed into law on Tuesday by Democratic Governor, JB Pritzker.
Citizens of Illinois aged 21 and over will now be able to legally possess up to 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate, as well as cannabinoid-infused products (up to 500mg THC). The bill also allows for those from outside Illinois to purchase half of each of the respective amounts.
The bill also takes serious measures to undo the damage the War on Drugs has done to communities across Illinois, particularly minority communities.
Individuals convicted for possession up to 30 grams will be automatically pardoned, so long as the conviction was for a nonviolent crime.
State’s attorneys and individuals can also petition a court to vacate convictions for possession up to 500 grams.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, around 770,000 cannabis-related cases are eligible for expungement.
Gov. Pritzker, who has a strong campaigner for legalising cannabis, highlighted how important it was to make amends to the communities devastated by the War on Drugs, which many now view as an overtly racist agenda:
“In the past 50 years, the war on cannabis has destroyed families, filled prisons with nonviolent offenders and disproportionately disrupted black and brown communities.
“Signing this bill into law won’t undo the injustices of the past or make whole the lives that were interrupted. We can’t turn the clock back — but we can turn the page.”
A grant programme, the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program, will be established by the bill to help rebuild those communities, with a $30 million low-interest loan program for qualified applicants who wish to start a licensed cannabis business, to help ensure that everyone can benefit from cannabis rather than just rich, predominantly white, businessmen.
There will be a flat 10% tax on all cannabis products with a THC level of 35% or below, a 20% tax on all cannabis-infused products and 25% tax on cannabis with a THC level above 35%.
The law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.