JB Pritzker
The last step in legalizing marijuana for recreational use in Illinois is to send the bill over to Governor Jay Robert Pritzker. The governor is expected to sign off on it anytime soon and the bill will take effect January 1, 2020. matejka53 / Flickr

Illinois is set to be the 11th state in the United States to legalize marijuana for recreational use after Illinois House Representatives voted for its legalization last Friday.

State lawmakers gave their final approval to HB 1438 after it had gone through the Senate last Wednesday. The final step will be sending the bill off to Democratic Governor Jay Robert Pritzker, who is expected to sign off on it as he campaigned on the issue.

HB 1438 was filed by Senator Heather Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy and is set to end the prohibition of cannabis in Illinois. The bill will allow Illinois residents over the age of 21 to carry up to 30 grams of marijuana, with medicinal marijuana users being able to grow it in their home. Those using the drug for medical purposes will be allowed to grow up to five plants. However, recreational users still won’t be able to grow the drug. Additionally, non-residents are allowed to carry 15 grams of marijuana without any legal repercussions.

The bill will also usher in one of the most sweeping criminal justice reforms in the cannabis movement, with over 770,000 cannabis-related cases eligible for expungement under the act. Expungement will be automatic for convictions for up to 30 grams. However, convictions for 30-500 grams would need to be petitioned to the court in order to vacate the conviction.

Legalization of recreational marijuana use has been approved in a number of states. Illinois is the 11th to join other states that have done so. Thomas George / Flickr

The bill also contains a social equity program, which aims to provide benefits to those who were directly affected by the war on cannabis. Social equity applicants are businesses whose ownership or staff have been directly affected by the war on cannabis. As for the benefits, the social equity program aims to provide additional points for applicants in the scoring system and access to financial resources for business start-up costs.

The program also contains the Restore, Reinvest, and Renew Program, or the 3R program which allows community groups to develop programs that will benefit disadvantaged communities.

Illinois is set to be the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use. House representatives passed HB 1438 last Friday, and Governor J.B. Pritzker is expected to sign off on it anytime soon. David Mark / Pixabay

The law takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, with medicinal marijuana dispensaries being the only legal sellers of marijuana for recreational use. Starting mid-2020, Illinois will start granting additional licenses to new stores, cultivators, processors, as well as transporters. It is predicted that by 2022, up to 295 dispensaries could be in operation.