Illinois Senate Passes the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act

Illinois poised to become the first state to legislatively legalize and regulate cannabis

Springfield, IL: For more than 40 years, NORML has been committed to the mission of ending cannabis prohibition, and after decades of hard work by dedicated volunteers and activists from coast-to-coast that mission is one step closer to fruition following the passage of the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (HB1438-SFA2) by the Illinois Senate.

This bill accomplishes many of NORML’s key goals. Most importantly, it removes cannabis from the hands of unregulated illicit marketers and ushers in a system where the product is tested, taxed, and otherwise regulated. It also takes important steps toward the goal of dealing with the disproportionate impact of the “War on Drugs” by giving those individuals and communities that have been impacted a fair chance to participate in this new industry. NORML is committed to social justice and equity and we are proud that the bill intends to prioritize those issues. The Illinois General Assembly and Governor Pritzker have heard the voices of the vast majority of citizens across the state that support this important change and we applaud them for their efforts.

“This is just one step of many in ending cannabis prohibition. Even after this bill passes there will still be work to do to give adults in Illinois access to cannabis without having to purchase it from a limited amount of stores and cultivators,” said Dan Linn, Executive Director of Illinois NORML.

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This bill has been a part of a long legislative process over several years, and we applaud the sponsors especially Senator Heather Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy for all their hard work to get this legislative goal accomplished. Any bill dealing with an issue of this size and complexity necessarily requires listening to stakeholders and compromise. Despite all of the positive changes the bill makes, it is still concerning the degree to which the negotiations on this bill represent “politics as usual” in Illinois. This includes concessions restricting home cultivation to patients made to stakeholders who have consistently and without remorse misrepresented facts and promoted outright propaganda, even in the face of growing public antipathy to their position. It also includes business-licensing restrictions that virtually guarantee that consumers will experience product shortages, high prices, and plenty of incentive to stay in the illicit market even after legal sales begin. And in spite of the stated concerns of the sponsors that the current Illinois business landscape lacks diversity, those licensing provisions will assuredly lead to an adult-use ownership structure that is just as lacking in diversity.

“The barriers to entry into this marketplace will only continue to expand the problems of the wealthy being able to profit from this new opportunity while others with fewer resources are unable to move from the illegal to the legal marketplace in terms of growing and selling this product,” Linn emphasized.

NORML has spent over 40 years with the facts on its side, independent of any false claims made by Courts, Legislatures, and Executive branch officials on the Federal, State, and Local level across the USA, and the passage of today’s bill only reaffirms that. We stand ready to work with the Governor’s office and the Legislature to deal with the problems stated above as they become apparent, just as we have with every piece of cannabis and hemp legislation in Illinois going back more than a decade. We are proud that Illinois has taken this step forward and we plan to continue taking more steps forward as we bring the cannabis plant back to its rightful legal place in our society.