Over the past two years, State Senator Heather Steans and I have traveled the State hosting a variety of town halls in fellow legislators districts and had over 100 meetings with stakeholders including industry members, community organizations, activist groups, and individuals. This year, we introduced House Bill 1438 to legalize the sale of adult use cannabis to those 21 and older in Illinois. This includes providing cannabis users with access to a legal market, the expungement of cannabis stand alone non violent offenses , and creating the necessary regulatory and taxation framework to do so.
I have long believed that cannabis prohibition is bad public policy. We must face the scientific fact that cannabis is less harmful than a substance like alcohol, and treat it similarly. Several years ago, I passed a decriminalization bill turning possession of small amounts of cannabis into a civil ticket rather than a criminal offense. The time has come to take the natural next step. For us, this is first and foremost an issue of social justice. The war on drugs has had a disproportionately negative effect on communities of color.
All Illinoisans, especially those in communities most harmed by our outdated biases, should have the opportunity to start and work in businesses representing an entirely new and booming sector of our economy. Specifically, HB 1438 will give cannabis users access to the legal market and will provide capital investment grants to those who previously worked in the illicit market and are willing and able to bring their skills and knowledge of the product to a regulated, legal market. The state will work with the Community College board to establish 8 pilot programs to prepare for careers in the legal industry— 5 of these will be located in schools with a student population that is 50% low income. Significant portions of the revenue from this policy change will go back to the communities that were disproportionately impacted and towards educational and preventative programs regarding safety, mental health, and substance abuse.
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Find the details of the original bill as it has been introduced in the HB 1438 Adult Use Cannabis Fact Sheet in the document at the bottom of the page. As commissioned by Representative Cassidy and Senator Steans, links to a two-part analysis on the effects of legalization of adult-use cannabis in Illinois can be found directly below. Part One outlines estimates of demand and of tax revenue post-legalization. Part Two presents an analysis of the impact of the proposed policy on initial supply.