Marijuana will be legalized in January 2020

Aubrey Lathrop

Recreational marijuana use and distribution will become legal in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020. However, different restrictions can be placed on the industry by smaller legislations within the state, including the Quad Cities government.
Even though marijuana is legal within the state, the areas where dispensaries can be built are controlled. 
“We have passed an ordinance so distribution will be allowed in Rock Island. Some cities are passing ordinances that make it so restrictive it’s not allowed,” the city manager for Rock Island, Randy Tweet, said in an interview with the Observer. Recreational marijuana will be treated very similarly to alcohol and the laws regarding its use.
“We equate it to liquor sales, so it would follow the same rules. If someone wanted to open a dispensary and had a license from the state, the regulations would be very similar to someone wanting to open a bar,” Tweet said.
The marketing and labelling of cannabis products will follow very similar guidelines to alcohol, with a few different changes. “All cannabis products must contain warning statements established for purchasers of a size that is legible and readily visible to a consumer inspecting a package, which may not be covered or obscured in any way,” according to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act for Illinois.
The Cannabis Regulation and Tax act also states that people of legal age can possess 30 grams of cannabis flower or 500 milligrams of THC. People visiting from other states have a more restrictive possession limit. 
“It is not legal, then, to transport into Iowa,” Tweet said. “Many of the growers and dispensaries are owned by larger corporations that have multiple businesses in different states. They cannot transport state to state. Everything has got to be produced and sold in the state.” 
The practice of craft growing will be much more limited. According to the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, “The Department of Agriculture shall issue up to 40 craft grower licenses by July 1, 2020.” These licenses will not be available for sale until 2021, when 60 more licenses will be issued.
If a recreational dispensary is brought into Rock Island, it could potentially give the economy of Rock Island a boost. “We have imposed a three percent sales tax, which is the max we can impose based on the state law. So first it would depend if there was a dispensary in Rock Island,” Tweet said. Without a dispensary, Rock Island would not be able to benefit from the tax on marijuana.
Augustana has implemented its own rules surrounding marijuana. “We need to clarify that it’s legal in the state of Illinois, but it is not legal on a federal level. We are bound by the federal Drug-Free Campus Act and our policy is not going to change,” Chief of Public Safety, Tom Phillis, said. “If you’re 21 and you’re in possession of marijuana, it’s still not going to be allowed on campus, so it would be-that person would be submitted to our conduct system for discipline.”
There currently are 55 operating medical cannabis dispensaries in Illinois, and each dispensary has the ability to open up a second distribution facility. “If everyone does that, in January there will be 110 dispensaries throughout the entire state,” Tweet said.
Additionally, the records of people who are currently incarcerated solely on a charge of marijuana possession will be expunged. 
“Part of the law is the social justice aspect and what they’re trying to do, what the state of Illinois is trying to do, is sort of makeup for people that were charged under what some people consider unfair drug laws.” Tweet said.