On 1st January, 2020, Illinois became the 11th US state to introduce the legalisation of adult-use recreational Cannabis. The mid-western state also became the just the second in the country to do so through the legislature.
Of the ten other states (and Washington D.C), only Vermont has previously legalised recreational Cannabis through the legislature. The remaining nine states did so through ballot initiatives (where citizens voted for legalisation).
Illinois’ route to legalisation began with the election of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who advocated for the law change in his 2018 campaign. On June 25th, 2019, the Governor signed the marijuana legalisation bill, sent to him by the legislature.
The bill dictated that the sale, possession, and use of Cannabis will be legal or adults aged 21 and over. Tourists will also be permitted to buy and use Cannabis products but will be limited more on quantities than state citizens.
Individual cities and states within Illinois will be able to prohibit the sale of Cannabis if the local government chooses. However, they will be unable to prohibit the possession and use of the drug.
In addition, previous convictions for low-level Cannabis-related convictions and arrests will be pardoned and expunged. Other states have taken a similar approach, but are yet to successfully clear the records of all citizens affected by a criminal conviction for Cannabis.
On the first day of legalisation, Illinois Cannabis sales are thought to equal around $3.2 million.
A growing number of US states are demonstrating an appetite for Cannabis policy change. Following Cannabis legalisation in Illinois, a number of other drugs are expected to follow suit by 2024. According to a report by Arcview, these states could include Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Rhode Island.
In addition to the 10 states that have legalised recreational Cannabis, three others (Nebraska, Mississippi, and North Carolina) have decriminalised the drug.