On May 6, 2019, the Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act was filed in the Illinois state Senate as an amendment to Senate Bill 7. The Act is 523 pages long and proposes to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois by January 1, 2020 with licensure of adult-use cannabis businesses starting May 2020. The Act proposes to tackle everything from personal possession and cultivation limits to the creation of a state-wide social equity program for commercial cannabis business applicants and a long list of items in between.
When it comes to the social equity program, the Act provides for the expungement of minor cannabis violations, a $20 million low-interest loan program to promote “social equity” in business ownership, and “preference in the issuance of licenses to:
- individuals who have resided for at least 5 of the preceding 10 years in a disproportionately impacted area;
- individuals who have been arrested for, convicted of, or adjudged to be a ward of the juvenile court for any offense that is eligible for expungement under the Act or member of an impacted family;
- individuals who are Black or Hispanic; or
- for employers with a minimum of 10 full-time employees who meet any of these criteria.” (Synopsis of Cannabis Regulations and Tax Act).
Similar to the Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) passed by the State of California in 2017 (and its predecessors MCRSA and AUMA), the proposed Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act also touches on other various topics including: packaging and labeling requirements, advertising restrictions, taxes associated with different types of cannabis products, THC concentration limits, licensing fees, and enforcement.
Given the late date at which the Act was filed, the General Assembly only has twenty-one (21) days of legislative debate on the calendar to pass the Act before they adjourn. Debate is expected to begin soon in the Senate and the bill will need thirty (30) votes to move to the House for further consideration. The Senate is made up of forty (40) Democrats and nineteen (19) Republicans.
As Senior Compliance Associate at Rogoway Law Group, I am licensed to practice law in Illinois and am keeping an eye on the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. Check back here for updates as the bill progresses through the legislative process.