On January 1, 2020, the use of recreational marijuana became legal in the state of Illinois (410 ILCS 705/ Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act). I am not a big fan of the legalization of marijuana, and no, it’s not for any moral reasons, or the fact I was on the loosing side on the war on drugs. The sole reason being is that I feel as if this law is just a money grab. Rather than figure out how to bring good paying industries back to Illinois, many jobs have left over the years. Illinois law makers figured they’d rather legalize marijuana to collect the tax revenue to fix Illinois financial crisis caused by the law makers and their poor fiscal habits. Regardless of how I feel, recreational marijuana use is legal in Illinois and if the tax revenue keeps flowing, then it will remain a law.
The state of Illinois is unique from other states with legalized recreational cannabis use in that there are provisions in the IL law for equality in the Cannabis Industry, meaning areas of high crime and poverty will get assistance from the state with regards to obtaining distribution licenses, as well as provide low interest loans to qualified applicants who want to get into the industry. The law also provides relief for individuals who have been arrested in the past for minor drug offenses by expunging their records. The legislation covers who is legally allowed to use cannabis and the amounts they can possess. Employers’ rights are covered under the law as well, for example an employer may opt to have a “no drug use policy” and is protected by the law and an employer has the right to terminate employment if an employee violates a work place drug policy. Cultivation centers are regulated form how they are constructed, as well as the product needing to be tested based on state regulations. The law covers how the product is to be taxed and how the money is to be distributed throughout the state.
Over the last 80 years attitudes towards the legalization of marijuana have changed. In 2014, medical use of marijuana became legal followed by the legalization of recreational marijuana in 2020. Given the revenue stream as well as a new industry being created, this law is here to stay although I feel as if more should be done to bring other sources of revenue to the state and not just rely on this source on income.