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House sends cannabis-legalization bill to Pritzker
by Matt Simonette

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A bill legalizing recreational use of marijuana in Illinois, having gotten its final passage in the House on May 31, is on its way to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature.

The bill, HB 1438, creates the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act and provides that it will be legal for persons 21 years of age or older "to possess, use and purchase limited amounts of cannabis for personal use."

HB 1438's chief House sponsor was lesbian state Rep. Kelly Cassidy. State Sen. Heather Steans, a frequent ally of Cassidy's, sponsored the legislation in the Illinois Senate; Pritzker is expected to sign the bill. HB 1438 would also bring relief to persons with low-level marijuana-related convictions.

In a May 31 statement, Cassidy said, "I applaud my fellow members of the Illinois House of Representatives for their historic vote today on House Bill 1438—legislation that promises to usher in a new, smarter era of cannabis regulation in our state.

"For a long time, it has been apparent that cannabis prohibition does not work. It has been too easy for young people to get access to cannabis, the potency and toxicity of which could not be evaluated. Too many people of color were being arrested for things others did with impunity. When Gov. Pritzker signs this bill into law, we will chart a path of legalization, regulation and taxation that will work for all Illinoisans.

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx applauded the bill's passage.

"As prosecutors who implemented these convictions, we must own our role in the harm they have caused and we should play a role in reversing them," Foxx said in a statement. "The failed war on drugs has disproportionately impacted communities of color, and my office will continue to explore ways to provide the broadest relief possible, beyond that provided by this legislation."

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