Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (Illinois House Bill 1438) is an act legalizing and regulating the production, consumption, and sale of cannabis in Illinois. It was approved by both houses by May 31, 2019 and came into effect January 1, 2020.[1][2]

It marked the first act of a U.S. state legislature creating a regulated cannabis system (versus a voter initiative as enacted in Colorado, Washington State and California, or an unregulated system as in Vermont or the District of Columbia).[3]



State Senator Heather Steans introduced a legalization bill in 2018 that did not pass.[4] In 2018, J. B. Pritzker ran for Governor of Illinois on a platform to legalize cannabis, among other issues, and was elected in November, 2018.[5] A 2017 poll conducted by Illinois Policy Institute showed over 70% support in the state for legalization and regulation.[6]

2019 legislation[edit]

Senate Bill 7, a legalization shell bill, was introduced in early April 2019.[7] Provisions of the bill were announced on May 4.[8] SB7 was passed by the Senate May 29.[1] The bill became House Bill 1438. During debates, Rep. Anthony DeLuca reenacted the 1987 This Is Your Brain on Drugs anti-drug PSA on the House floor.[9][10][11] HB 1438 was amended and passed by the House of Representatives on May 31.[12] Sponsors of the legislation were Senator Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy.[1]


Under the act, personal possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis is legal for Illinois residents at least 21 years of age, with lower limits for non-residents.[3]

The bill contains expungement provisions supported by civil liberties advocates.[13] Around 700,000 marijuana-related police records and court convictions are expected to qualify to be erased under the bill.[14] Cases of marijuana possession under 30 grams will automatically be expunged. Cases involving more than 30 grams will require court approval to be expunged.[15]

The bill contains social equity provisions, including license application benefits for social equity applicants and $12,000,000 in funding for social equity programs.[16]

The bill allows for local communities to decide whether or not to allow cannabis-related businesses, collect additional taxes, and establish zoning requirements.[16]

The act created the position of Illinois Cannabis Regulation Oversight Officer within the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, and the Adult Use Cannabis Health Advisory Committee within the Illinois Department of Human Services.[17]


Clergy for a New Drug Policy supported the bill, as did civil liberties advocates.[13] It was opposed by a group called Healthy and Productive Illinois, associated with Smart Approaches to Marijuana; Illinois Sheriffs' Association and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police;[18] and by No Weed Illinois which included Peter B. Bensinger, the former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration director and Illinois Department of Corrections director, and a group called Marijuana Victims Alliance.[19][non-primary source needed]


  1. ^ a b c "Illinois Senate approves recreational use of marijuana". CBS News. May 30, 2019.
  2. ^ "Illinois legalizes marijuana and other new state laws in 2020". NPR. January 1, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Claire Hansen. "Illinois Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Legalization". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 1 June 2019.
  4. ^ "Illinois lawmakers look at possibility of marijuana legalization". Associated Press. January 24, 2018 – via The Cannabist (Denver Post).
  5. ^ Brown, Mark (January 22, 2018). "Pritzker betting the pot on legalizing marijuana in governor's race". Chicago Sun-Times.
  6. ^ Hilary Gowins (March 27, 2017). "Poll shows 'large majorities' of Illinois voters support legalizing marijuana". Illinois Policy Institute.
  7. ^ Jerry Nowicki (April 5, 2019). "Illinois Senate committee OKs pot legalization bill without releasing details". Chicago Sun-Times.
  8. ^ Tom Schuba (May 4, 2019). "Pritzker, Dems introduce bill to legalize marijuana statewide". Chicago Sun-Times.
  9. ^ Zuri Davis (May 31, 2019). "Illinois Legislators Pass Pot Legalization Bill; One legislator tried to stop them by reenacting an infamously dumb anti-drug ad. It didn't work". Reason blog. Reason.
  10. ^ "Illinois lawmaker uses egg, frying pan demonstration during recreational marijuana debate". Chicago: WGN-TV. May 31, 2019.
  11. ^ "Illinois state lawmaker uses eggs to demonstrate 'your brain on drugs'". The Hill. May 31, 2019.
  12. ^ "Lawmakers Vote To Legalize Marijuana In Illinois". CBS Local. May 31, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Rich Miller (May 29, 2019). "Senate to take up cannabis legalization bill today". Capitol Fax.
  14. ^ O'Brien, Brendan (December 24, 2019). "Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois on New Year's Day". Reuters. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  15. ^ McCoppin, Robert (August 30, 2019). "Getting marijuana convictions expunged in Illinois: What you need to know about the process". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved December 24, 2019.
  16. ^ a b "Illinois Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act - HB1438". Illinois Cannabis Info. Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  17. ^ John Pletz (May 20, 2019). "Five things you didn't know were in Illinois weed bill". Crain's Chicago Business.
  18. ^ Robert McCoppin (May 8, 2019), "Police oppose marijuana legalization in Illinois, but want a bigger cut of the proceeds if law passes", Chicago Tribune
  19. ^ "Opposition | No Weed Illinois".

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