Illinois is one signature away from joining the 10 other states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana. With a bipartisan vote of 66-47,... Illinois House approves marijuana legalization bill backed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker

Illinois is one signature away from joining the 10 other states that have legalized recreational use of marijuana.

With a bipartisan vote of 66-47, the House approved a bill Friday that had been passed by the Senate Wednesday. Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who campaigned for office on a promise to legalize pot, almost immediately issued a statement in which he promised to sign a bill that he said offers “the most equity-centric approach in the nation.”

“This will have a transformational impact on our state, creating opportunity in the communities that need it most and giving so many a second chance,” Pritzker said in his statement.

With the governor’s signature, Illinois would become the first state to create a commercial recreational marijuana industry through the legislature rather than by voter initiative.

Supporters hailed the measure as an acknowledgement that the prohibition of marijuana has failed, and they argued that the bill will begin to address decades of racial disparities in the prosecution of drug crimes.

“Prohibition hasn’t built communities. In fact, it has destroyed them,” said Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who worked with Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans for more than two years to craft the bill. “It is time to hit the reset button on the war on drugs.”

The bill takes effect Jan. 1 and would allow residents age 21 and older to legally possess 30 grams of cannabis, 5 grams of cannabis concentrate or 500 milligrams of THC contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents could possess 15 grams of cannabis. [Read More @ Chicago Tribune]

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