Acknowledging certain changes were needed to the state’s landmark cannabis legalization bill, Illinois lawmakers passed a trailer bill last week containing several substantive revisions. Here are the four key changes.

  • First, the original law gave control to local governments regarding on-site consumption of cannabis and exempted locally approved consumption facilities from the Smoke Free Illinois Act. This generated significant pushback from health advocates who have worked for decades to limit smoking in public places. The trailer bill clarifies that only dispensaries and smoke shops will be able to obtain exemptions that permit smoking on site. This will be a blow to entrepreneurs hoping to cater to marijuana smokers with unlicensed consumption lounges, but may also prove to be a boon for dispensaries and smoke shops who will have the consumption market to themselves.
  • Second, originally lawmakers in the state legislature at the time of passage and their spouses were precluded from ever having an ownership interest in a licensed Illinois cannabis company. The trailer bill keeps that provision and adds to it—starting in June 2021, any future members of the legislature and their immediate families will be precluded from owning an interest in a licensed Illinois cannabis company for two years after leaving office.
  • Third, the trailer bill allows local governments to begin collecting a local marijuana tax of up to 3% beginning in July 2020 rather than September.
  • Fourth, those between 18 and 20 years of age who are registered under the medical marijuana program will now be permitted to smoke marijuana, rather than simply consume edible products.

The trailer bill passed with overwhelmingly bipartisan support in both houses, 90-20 in the House and 41-6 in the Senate. This further confirms that the debate over cannabis in Illinois has shifted from whether to legalize to how to legalize. Recreational sales are scheduled to begin in Illinois on January 1, 2020, and we will be following all the action on our blog.