What’s in the marijuana legalization bill? A look at some of the highlights
By PETER HANCOCK
Capitol News Illinois
SPRINGFIELD – Senate Bill 7, the bill that would legalize adult-use recreational marijuana in Illinois, is a 533-page piece of legislation that sets standards for regulating the production, sale and taxation of marijuana, how licenses would be allocated, and how people with previous marijuana-related criminal convictions could have their records expunged.
Following is a summary of the bill’s major provisions:
Legalized possession and use
Starting Jan. 1, 2020:
- Illinois residents age 21 and over could legally possess up to 30 grams, or roughly one ounce, of marijuana; 5 grams of cannabis concentrate; 500 grams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product.
- Possession limits for non-Illinois residents would be one-half those of residents.
- In addition to possession limits, Illinois residents would be allowed to grow up to five marijuana plants in their own homes. Home-grown plants would have to be kept out of public view and in a locked room not accessible to people in the home under age 21.
- Organizations currently licensed to dispense medical marijuana could apply for a license to dispense recreational marijuana starting 60 days after the bill becomes law, and licenses would be granted to qualified applicants within 14 days. They would be required to pay a nonrefundable permit fee of $100,000 plus a “Cannabis Business Development Fund” fee equal to 5 percent of their total sales recorded between July 1, 2018, and July 1, 2019, or $500,000, whichever is less.
- By May 1, 2020, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation would issue up to 75 licenses for new dispensing organizations.
- A fixed number of licenses for new applicants would be available for each metropolitan and nonmetropolitan region of the state, as defined by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: 47 for the Chicago-Naperville-Elgin area; four for the St. Louis region; three each for the Peoria region and the northwest and west-central nonmetropolitan regions; two each for the Rockford region and the southern and east-central nonmetropolitan regions; and one each for the Bloomington, Cape Girardeau, Carbondale-Marion, Champaign-Urbana, Davenport-Moline-Rock Island, Decatur, Kankakee and Springfield metropolitan regions.
- Licenses would be awarded on the basis of a scoring system that, among other things, takes into account the organization’s labor and employment practices, the existence of a “labor peace agreement,” support or opposition from local communities and neighborhoods, an environmental plan to minimize the facility’s carbon footprint and environmental impact, and ownership by Illinois residents.
- Applicants must pay a $5,000 application fee and, if approved, a $60,000 registration fee unless they qualify for certain fee waivers or discounts.
- Dispensaries would be prohibited from engaging in false or misleading advertising or advertising to people under age 21.
Cultivation, processing and transportation
- The Illinois Department of Agriculture would be responsible for licensing and regulating adult use cultivation centers, craft growers, processing centers and transportation agents. Licenses would be granted on the basis of a scoring system similar to the one used for granting dispensary licenses.
- Organizations currently licensed to cultivate marijuana for medical use would be eligible for early approval for licensing as an adult use cultivation center. They would be charged a nonrefundable $100,000 application fee and a nonrefundable cannabis business development fee equal to 5 percent of their total sales recorded between July 1, 2018, and July 1, 2019, or $500,000, whichever is less, but not less than $100,000.
- The department, at its discretion, could issue licenses for new adult use cultivation centers. It would have the authority to set fees through rules and regulations.
- “Craft growers,” defined as cultivation facilities smaller than 5,000 square feet, would be charged a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee and a $40,000 license fee.
- Processors would be charged a $5,000 nonrefundable application fee and a $10,000 license fee.
- Retail sales of marijuana and related products would be subject to excise taxes ranging from 10 percent to 25 percent of the purchase price, depending on the product’s THC content.
- Municipalities could levy an additional excise tax of up to 3 percent; counties could levy another tax of 0.5 percent, and unincorporated areas could levy a tax of up to 3.5 percent.
- Cultivators would be required to pay a privilege fee equal to 7 percent of their gross receipts.
Distribution of revenue
Tax revenue would be deposited into a Cannabis Regulation Fund. State agencies responsible for administering the program would receive money from that fund to cover their administrative costs. Any remaining revenue would be distributed as follows:
- 35 percent to the state General Revenue Fund.
- 25 percent to a “Restoring Our Communities Fund” to pay for community reinvestment projects in low-income and high-crime communities.
- 20 percent to a fund to support mental health and substance abuse services at local health departments.
- 10 percent to the Budget Stabilization Fund to pay the backlog of unpaid bills.
- 8 percent to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to establish a law enforcement grant program.
- And 2 percent to the Drug Treatment Fund to pay for public education and awareness.
Social justice and equity provisions
- Records expungement: People with previous stand-alone convictions for civil, misdemeanor or class 4 felony possession charges would be eligible to have records of those convictions automatically expunged. Automatic expungement would not apply to people convicted of those crimes along with other charges, although they could petition a court and ask for the records to be expunged.
- Fee waivers: The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and the Department of Agriculture would waive 50 percent of any application or licensing fee for people and organizations defined as “social equity applicants.” Those include people from communities determined to have, “disproportionately suffered the harms of enforcement of cannabis-related laws,” as well as people from high-crime or high-poverty neighborhoods and people previously convicted of offenses that would become eligible for expungement.
- Start-up loans: Social equity applicants also would be eligible for low-interest loans through the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity to help defray the start-up costs.
- Community reinvestment: The bill calls for establishing a new grant program called “Restoring Our Communities.” Grants would fund projects aimed at addressing social and economic disparities in low-income and high-crime communities, to reduce gun violence and concentrated poverty in the state.