Breaking News: Illinois to Become the 11th State to Legalize Adult Use Marijuana
May 31, 2019

It’s all over but the shouting. The Illinois House today passed the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, two days after the same bill passed through the Illinois Senate. Governor Pritzker is expected to sign the bill shortly, making Illinois the 11th state to approve marijuana for adult use, and the first to create an adult-use marijuana market via legislation. Marijuana will be legal for adult recreational use on January 1, 2020.

We wrote about the general contours of the original Act here. As expected, certain provisions generated pushback and were amended. Specifically, the amended Act expands the amount of canopy square footage that individual cultivators can utilize (now up to 210,000 square feet of canopy space), modifies the offenses eligible for expungement and changes the procedure for obtaining expungement, and allows only medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis. The revised Act proved broadly acceptable to legislators; the Act passed the Senate by a 38-17 vote and the House by a 66-47 vote.

The passage of the Act will set off a frenzy of activity in the State. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will issue up to 75 new dispensary licenses and will start accepting applications before the end of the year. In the meantime, current medical marijuana dispensary licensees will have the right to immediately seek adult-use licenses to sell marijuana to adults from their current dispensaries and secondary sites. On the grow side, no new large-scale cultivators will be licensed until at least July 2021. Instead, current medical marijuana cultivators will have the right to immediately apply for adult use cultivation licenses and provide the vast majority of the State’s marijuana for the next several years. The Act will create a new “craft grow” license that will permit cultivation in facilities with up to 14,000 square feet of canopy space. The Department of Agriculture will issue up to 40 such craft grow licenses by July 1, 2020. None of the licenses will be cheap—the Act contains steep licensing and other fees, although those fees can be eliminated or reduced for “Qualified Social Equity Applicants.”

We have analyzed the Act in detail and are ready and able to assist anyone interested in participating in Illinois’s adult-use marijuana market.

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