Crain's outlines how Illinois' statutory approach to legalizing pot will make the state a leader in the country:
Illinois is trying to do something no other state has accomplished, legalizing recreational marijuana by statute instead of coming up with a program on the fly after a ballot initiative.
The bill, outlined Saturday, covers the mechanics of licensing, distribution and taxation, as well as some thorny criminal and social-justice matters that are crucial to lining up support.
The legislation also would create a $20 million low-interest loan fund to help “social equity applicants” from communities that have been hit hard by poverty and arrest and incarceration rates for cannabis use to win licenses to grow, produce and sell cannabis for recreational use. The Cannabis Business Development Fund would be seeded with $12 million from the existing medical cannabis fund.
An even trickier balance is trying to put in regulations necessary to keep the industry under control but large and competitive enough to cut into the illegal pot market. That’s been a challenge in California, where the legalized cannabis market opened last year, with seemingly little impact on the black market, the New York Times reported.
State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) plan to introduce the bill today. Fun fact: The Daily Parker resides in Steans' legislative district.