Illinois could soon join Michigan in legalizing recreational marijuana in the Midwest

May 8, 2019 at 1:00 am
Pro-pot Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
Pro-pot Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker. Vishesh Anand/Illinois Public Media/CC

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced over the weekend an agreement with lawmakers to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. If passed, Illinois would join Michigan as the only Midwest states with adult-use laws.

It doesn't sound like a very liberal law. Illinois residents could buy or possess up to 30 grams (just over one ounce), while nonresidents would be restricted to 15 grams. Michigan's Prop. 1 allows possession of up to 10 ounces. There doesn't seem to be any mention of growing your own. The Illinois medical marijuana law allows patients 2.5 ounces but no home grows. The law would automatically expunge some marijuana convictions.

A self-described progressive Democrat, Pritzker ran as a pro-legalization candidate and has come through on the issue just a few months after taking office. It was only last November that Michigan was the first state in the Midwest for recreational legalization. If Illinois passes this law, it will be less than a year between the first and second state in the area legalizing. That's lightning speed for this sort of thing.

The proposed law would also fund a $20 million low-interest loan program to help applicants who live in areas disproportionately affected by the bad enforcement of drug laws, in addition to folks convicted of one of the expungement-worthy offenses.

Seems to me it's time to get that Lake Michigan cannabis cruise going — Chicago blues to Traverse City cinema. As long as the captain isn't smoking the hemp rope, it should be all right.

Secure at the border:
Here's a note of interest from Richard Clement's blog, You may remember Clement as an associate of former Detroit City Councilperson George Cushingberry. Clement reports that Canada has taken the World Health Organization's declaration that use of cannabis is a humanitarian right. Card-carrying medical marijuana patients who show their card at the border and possess eight grams or less of marijuana are protected under international law and will not be arrested. Clement claims to have personally tested this policy and emerged unscathed.

Speaking for myself personally, I don't see any reason to cross a federal border with marijuana. Getting some over there isn't that hard (try Google). However, it's good to know that if you make a mistake you can survive it.

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