Two key Chicago Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, have met with interested groups around Illinois and are expected to introduce legislation soon.
Meanwhile, however, Rep. Carol Ammons, D—Urbana, already has introduced a bill that is drawing attention. It would open the door to a much more expansive legal pot industry than most others have envisioned.
Ammons’ bill, the Cannabis Legalization Equity Act, would allow anyone age 21 or older with valid identification to buy or sell marijuana. Driving under the influence of the drug still would be illegal. And the legislation makes specific mention that only “legitimate, tax-paying business people” would be permitted to sell cannabis.
Under the measure, Illinoisans could possess as many as 224 grams, or about a half-pound, of marijuana at time. It also would allow individual to grow as many as 24 plants in their own homes for personal consumption, and it would provide for the licensing of cultivation facilities and retail dispensaries.
Also in the bill is a requirement that at least 51 percent of the licenses for cultivation facilities and retail cannabis stores be issued “in communities disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs,” which the bill defines as census tracts in which more than half the population is African–American, Native American, Hispanic or Latino.
Revenue for the state would be generated by a 10 percent excise tax on the sale or transfer of marijuana from a cultivation facility to a retail store.
There is no official estimate of how much revenue the bill would generate.