Illinois Governor Pardons More Than 11,000 Marijuana Convictions As State Begins Recreational Sales

Illinois started off the new year with the legal sale and use of recreational marijuana, prompting a long line of costumers at weed dispensaries, some of whom had been waiting for the grand openings since 4 a.m., according to USA Today.

Now, anyone over 21 with a valid ID will be able to purchase recreational marijuana from licensed retailers in Illinois. However, before you plan your next visit to Illinois, it is worth noting that residents have more perks than non-residents in the state.

According to the report, those living in Illinois are able to have up to 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of concentrate, and 500 milligrams of THC. Non-residents in the state can only have half as much on their person.

The law also takes steps to reconcile the disparities that Black people and other people of color have faced and continue to face when it comes to marijuana possession and use, including a “social equity” plan in order to help diversify the booming industry and help minority entrepreneurs who have been impacted by poverty and the war on drugs. The law also wipes out eligible criminal records resulting from marijuana possession or use.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker kicked off his new year by wiping out more than 11,000 low-level marijuana convictions.

“The war on cannabis has destroyed families. It has filled jails and prisons with nonviolent offenders. It has disproportionately affected Black and Brown communities,” Pritzker said at a press conference. “Every state that has legalized cannabis has seen high demand and long lines in its earliest weeks, and to be sure, our state will, too. But unlike other states, in Illinois, we purposely built a system where the market has room to grow, so that entrepreneurs, including especially those from the communities devastated by the war on drugs, will have real opportunities in this industry.”

Despite this, only the owners of existing medical cannabis dispensaries, which have next to no minority ownership, were awarded the city’s initial licenses, USA Today noted in another report.

Some community leaders have argued that by giving the first licenses to existing dispensary owners, future owners will be left to catch up by the time they get up and running.

“It seems, historically, that we are never in the lead. We’re always told to wait our turn,” Ald. Leslie Hairston said during a contentious City Council meeting last month, according to the report. “The only people that benefit from this deal are the white people. Once again, we get thrown in the jails, and they get thrown in the banks.”

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