Marijuana is legalized in the State of Illinois, both for medical and recreational uses. The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act of Illinois passed by the State's legislature in 2019 made Illinois the first state in the U.S. to legalize the use of marijuana by an act of the legislature. The law was passed on May 31, 2019, but took effect on January 1, 2020. In accordance with the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, Illinois residents are allowed to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana flower or 5 grams of marijuana concentrates. Illinois residents may hold up to 500 milligrams of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) contained in marijuana-infused products. Patients registered in the Illinois Medical Cannabis Patient Program may be allowed to possess more than 30 grams of marijuana. Such registered patients can grow the plant in a secured residence. However, they are not permitted to have more than five marijuana plants taller than five inches in their home, if they have to possess beyond 30 grams of marijuana at any period.
Non-residents in the State of Illinois are only allowed to have up to 15 grams of marijuana flower, or 2.5 grams of marijuana concentrate in their possession. They are not allowed to be in possession of any quantity of THC beyond 250 milligrams in a marijuana-infused product. The cumulative weight of marijuana and marijuana products allowed for Illinois residents to possess at any period must not exceed 30 grams. In contrast, the cumulative weight of marijuana and marijuana products allowed for non-residents of Illinois to possess must not exceed 15 grams.
The Illinois DUI Cannabis Task Force enforces DUI laws in the state. The task force agents stand by roadsides and use technological appliances to test drivers suspected to be driving under the influence. The Illinois State Police investigates all criminal history and identifies information about persons that violate the Cannabis Control Act. In addition, they conduct background checks on the personnel involved in the licensed cannabis sector and review the security plans used by all licensed persons and organizations in the cannabis sector.
There are many regulations in the State of Illinois for business entities cultivating, manufacturing, and selling marijuana in the state. These include regulations on cultivation, advertising, packaging, etc. The contents of marijuana advertisements are censored by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) to ensure they do not contain false or misleading information. These advertisements must not contain messages that promote excessive consumption of marijuana or marijuana products. They must not claim any health, medicinal or therapeutic benefits of marijuana or marijuana products. The contents of the advertisements must not include the image of marijuana leaf or bud and should not contain images that appeal to minors, such as cartoons, photos of toys, animals, children, etc. The content of the advertisement must also not have any image depicting a person under 21 years of age consuming marijuana, nor should it encourage the consumption of marijuana among persons under 21 years of age.
Businesses and individuals must not place advertisements of marijuana or any marijuana-infused product within 1,000 feet of a school. This restriction also applies to other public places that children may have access to, such as childcare centers, recreational facilities, public parks, libraries, game arcades, etc. Advertisements for marijuana or marijuana-infused products must also not be displayed in public vehicles, public transit shelters, publicly owned or publicly operated properties. Marijuana business entities are also disallowed from organizing competitions or giving out marijuana or marijuana products. They also must not give out promotional materials or perform activities in ways that could be appealing to minors.
There are also regulations for how marijuana and marijuana products can be packaged. All harvested marijuana plants and buds intended to be sold must be packaged in a sealed and labeled container. The packaging for any marijuana product must be designed in ways that are child-resistant and light-resistant in accordance with the standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission as referenced by the Poison Prevention Act. The expiry date, quantity of marijuana contained in the product, content list, and other necessary details about the product must be written on the label of the product. All marijuana products must contain warning statements for consumers, written in legible sizes.
The packaging of marijuana products must not contain any seal, flag, crest, coat of arms, or other insignia that may mislead consumers to believe that the government endorses the product. Some information that must be contained in the packaging of a marijuana product are:
An express warning, stating that the product is intended to be used at the discretion of adults above the age of 21.
An express warning that the use of the product can negatively impact cognition, and it can be habit-forming.
A warning that pregnant or breastfeeding women must not use the product.
A warning that the product is not to be transported outside of the state of Illinois.
A warning that it is illegal to drive an automobile while under the influence of the product.
A warning that the possession of the product in some areas within the state and in areas under federal law may attract legal sanctions.
Despite the legal permissions for the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois, a local government unit may prohibit or limit the establishment of marijuana businesses. A home rule unit or non-home rule unit within an unincorporated territory in Illinois may also prohibit or limit the establishment of marijuana businesses in their territory. Local municipalities in Illinois are authorized to enact reasonable restrictions regarding licensed cultivation centers, craft growers, processing organizations, and dispensaries. According to their locally established laws, they may also regulate the on-premises consumption of marijuana in a marijuana business establishment within their locality. Recreational marijuana can only be purchased from authorized dispensaries. Only adults from the age of 21 years and above are allowed to buy recreational marijuana, and they must present a government-issued ID card to certify their identity.
There is no law in Illinois exempting felons from purchasing recreational marijuana. However, they must present an I.D card before they can buy marijuana. All patients requiring treatment with medical marijuana are registered under the Medical Cannabis Patient Registry Program. They are required to show their Medical Marijuana Cards at the marijuana dispensary stores to buy medical marijuana without having to pay cannabis purchaser excise tax. In a case where a medical marijuana patient seeking to purchase marijuana at a medical marijuana dispensary appears to be ineligible, they may request the dispensary to look up their online registry at the Illinois State Biotrack System.
Legal use of recreational marijuana in Illinois started on January 1, 2020. Within six months of legal use, the state had recorded marijuana sales worth over $239 million with generated tax revenue amounting to $52 million. Two years later, Governor Pritzker announced that the state has seen a 50% increase in adult-use cannabis sales and tax revenues between 2021 and 2022. Marijuana sales went up to $1.5 billion in 2022 from $1 billion in 2021, while tax revenue increased from $297.7 million in 2021 to $445.3 million in fiscal year 2022.
More tax revenues generated from increasing marijuana sales also means more grants and tax disbursements to local governments in Illinois. Local governments shared up to $146.2 million in 2022, compared to the $82.8 million tax disbursements received in 2021. Furthermore, grants worth more than $110 million were awarded thanks to tax revenues realized from sales of cannabis. These grants will be used to support economically-distressed communities affected by drug criminalization and other areas with high violence rates.
Generally, tax revenues from marijuana sales are initially deposited in the Cannabis Regulation Fund according to the Illinois Cannabis Regulation & Tax Act. From this account, money will be allocated to cover the administrative costs of the state agencies responsible for administering adult-use cannabis. The remaining money is often shared as follows:
35% is to be deposited in the General Revenue Fund
25% will be forwarded to the Criminal Justice Information Projects Fund to support the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew (R3) Program
20% will be forwarded to the Community Service Fund of the Department of Human Service to fund programs in substance abuse and prevention of mental health concerns.
10% will be forwarded to the Budget Stabilization Fund to pay the backlog of unpaid bills.
8% will be forwarded to the Local Government Distributive Fund to support crime prevention programs.
The remaining 2% will be forwarded to the Drug Treatment Fund to support education campaigns, data collection and analysis of public health impacts on the legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.
There are different categories of excise tax rates and fees for marijuana cultivation, production, and sales in Illinois. Examples of these are as follows:
The Cannabis Cultivation Privilege: This tax requires marijuana plant cultivators to pay 7% of all taxable receipts from the first sale of recreational cannabis.
The Cannabis Purchaser Excise Tax: The rate charged for the tax varies with the concentration of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in the product or if adult-use cannabis is infused in the product. A tax of 10% of the purchase price is charged on the sale of adult-use cannabis containing an adjusted THC of 35% or less. If the adjusted THC level of the adult-use cannabis is 35% and above, the Cannabis Purchaser Excise Tax will be 25%. An excise tax of 20% of the purchase price will be charged for the sales of adult-use cannabis-infused products.
In Illinois, every marijuana cultivator, craft grower, and marijuana dispensary operator is obliged to make quarter-monthly (accelerated) estimated tax payments. These quarter-monthly estimated tax payments are due on or before the 7th, 15th, 22nd, and the last day of each month. The amount to be paid as a quarter-monthly (accelerated) payment shall be either 22.5% of the actual tax liability for the month or 25% of the liability for the same month of the previous year, whichever is lesser. If there was no liability in the same month of the previous year, the establishment would not be required to pay a quarter-monthly (accelerated) payment for that month.
However, the Illinois Department of Revenue will notify the taxpayer when they are required to pay the quarter-monthly (accelerated) payment. The payments must be made electronically unless the Department of Revenue has issued a waiver for electronic payment. Businesses that can not make payments electronically are required to call the Illinois Department of Revenue on any of the numbers stated below to request a waiver of the electronic payment mandate. The numbers that may be called are (217) 782-7897, 1 (800) 732-8866, or (217) 782-3336.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Crime Data Explorer shows the data for marijuana-related arrests in the State of Illinois. Below is an overview of arrest statistics for 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
|Arrests for illegal Marijuana possession||201||274||310||140|
|Arrests for illegal marijuana sales||26||12||15||9|
Of the 201 arrested for the possession of marijuana in 2017, 116 were African Americans, 84 were Whites, and one was Native Alaskan. The 26 persons arrested for the sales of marijuana in the same year consisted of 16 African Americans and 10 Whites. The 307 persons arrested for the possession of marijuana in 2018 consisted of 168 African Americans, 103 whites, one Native Hawaiian, one Native Alaskan and one other whose race was unspecified. The 12 persons arrested for the possession of marijuana in 2018 were 10 African Americans and two Whites. In 2019, 195 African Americans and 115 Whites made up the 310 persons arrested for marijuana possession, while 11 African Americans and four whites made up the total of 15 persons arrested for marijuana sales. In 2020, the 140 persons arrested for illegal marijuana possession were 90 African Americans, 48 Whites, one Asian, and one person with unidentified race. The nine persons arrested for illegal marijuana sales in 2020 composed of five African Americans, three Whites, and one Asian.
Following the legalization of adult-use marijuana in Illinois, the state has expunged the criminal records of about 500,000 persons earlier convicted for non-felony possession of marijuana. However, persons arrested for the possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana are still required to visit the court independently to seek the expungement of their criminal records.
The use of marijuana was technically legal in Illinois from the beginning of its statehood in December 1818 till 1931, when the state banned the recreational use of marijuana. Six years after the ban, the Illinois legislature came up with the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. However, the consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes was not popular in Illinois until the mid to late 1910s. The use of marijuana for recreational purposes in Illinois during the period was common among Mexican immigrants in the state. Many states of the U.S outlawed marijuana during the Great Depression as popular views perceived it as among the reasons for the high unemployment. By the 1950s, the federal laws of the U.S. set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses. However, Illinois started to consider reducing the harsh penalties for drug-related offenses from the late 1970s, as the use of marijuana in the state became popular. The state, however, redirected its policing strategy towards curtailing drug traffickers, and distributors, rather than sentencing users. This brought about the enactment of the Cannabis Control Act of 1978.
By the Cannabis Control Act of 1978, marijuana became legal for medical use. The Department of Human Services got the authority to give licenses to physicians to treat specific ailments. However, the Illinois State Police never gave formal approval to the Department of Human Services. The Department of Human Services also never gave licenses to physicians to treat patients with marijuana. In 2013, the Illinois Senate approved the Compassionate use of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act (MCCP) by a 35 to 21 vote, after which the Act was signed by Governor Pat Quin. This marked the true legalization of medical marijuana in Illinois, eliminating the need for the involvement of the police in the approval processes of marijuana for medical uses.
In 2016, the State of Illinois adjusted the penalty for the possession of under 10g of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a minor fine. The Illinois legislature continued to work on reducing the harsh damages of marijuana laws over the years. They passed the historic Cannabis Regulatory and Tax Act on May 31st, 2019. On August 12, 2019, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program Act became a permanent program. The designation "pilot" was removed from it. Illinois has recorded tremendous success since the introduction of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Program. The number of marijuana dispensaries in the state has risen to 57, and more than 100,000 patients are served through the dispensaries. The state has continued to expunge the criminal records of persons convicted for the possession of marijuana before January 1, 2020, when recreational marijuana was legalized in Illinois. The processes for the expungement of these past criminal records are expected to be completed by January 1, 2025.