CHICAGO, IL — On Tuesday, Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize cannabis. Illinois will become the second state to legalize cannabis possession via the legislative process and the first to legalize retail sales legislatively.
The Marijuana Policy Project worked closely with legislators and the governor’s office to craft and pass the CRTA, which contains the most far-reaching social equity provisions ever included in a legalization law. It includes reinvestment in communities disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition, broad expungement provisions, and measures to ensure the industry includes communities that have been targeted by cannabis enforcement.
“We applaud the Illinois Legislature and Gov. Pritzker on this resounding victory for personal liberty, racial justice, and common sense,” Steve Hawkins, executive director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “MPP was honored to work hand-in-hand with elected leaders to craft a law ending cannabis prohibition, in a way that begins to remedy the devastation of communities targeted by the war on drugs. Illinois’ focus on fairness and equity in legalization should be a model for other states.
“Illinois’ historic approach to clemency and expungement will clear up to 770,000 criminal records. Whereas the scarlet letter of a cannabis conviction has destroyed people’s futures, the CRTA provides new business and employment opportunities for those whose lives were derailed by prohibition,” said Hawkins.
“Illinois is the first state to legislatively replace cannabis prohibition with thoughtful, equitable regulation, but it will not be the last. Elected officials nationwide are heeding the call of an overwhelming majority of voters who want to stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol. And just as we today look back at alcohol prohibition as a misguided failure, future generations will look back and shake their heads in disbelief that cannabis prohibition lasted so long,” Hawkins added.
“Legalization can’t simply end criminal penalties or establish sales — legalization has to be part of the healing process as we recover from the failed war on cannabis,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Illinois has taken giant steps toward reducing that harm and resetting the whole system for the better.”
MPP has lobbied to reform cannabis policies in the Illinois state Legislature since 2004, previously leading the advocacy campaigns behind Illinois’ successful medical cannabis (2013) and decriminalization efforts (2016). MPP will continue working with allies to ensure smooth implementation of Illinois’ legalization law.