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Recreational marijuana in Illinois: What you need to know

Recreational marijuana in Illinois: What you need to know

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ST. LOUIS — Earlier this year, Illinois became the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana sales and use.

On Jan. 1, residents and visitors will be able to purchase marijuana legally in the Land of Lincoln.

Who will be able to purchase marijuana?

People age 21 and over. Bring a government-issued ID verifying age and home address. Out-of-state residents are more limited in how much product they can buy. IDs will be scanned, but the Belleville News-Democrat reports lawmakers have said the information won’t be stored anywhere.

How much can be purchased and possessed?Under the law, Illinois residents age 21 and over may possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 500 mg of THC in a cannabis-infused product, like edibles, and 5 grams of cannabis concentrate in total.

Concentrates are often described in the pot community as dab, shatter or wax. They’re typically vaporized in pens. Concentrates can take other forms, as well.

Nonresidents age 21 and older can have 15 grams of weed, 250 mg of infusions, and 2.5 grams of concentrate.

The totals are cumulative, so an Illinois resident could have 30 grams of flower, 500 mg of infused product and 5 grams of concentrate all at the same time. The same goes for nonresidents and their limits.

Where are dispensaries located in Illinois?

A list of licensed dispensaries can be found at the state’s website: idfpr.com/profs/adultusecan.asp

In the St. Louis metro area, the only dispensary licensed to sell recreational marijuana is Illinois Supply and Provisions, previously HCI Alternatives. The dispensary is located at 1014 Eastport Plaza Drive in Collinsville, and serves medical marijuana patients as well.

Of the 37 facilities licensed for recreational sales in Illinois, 24 are located in Chicago or in the Chicago area. Champaign-Urbana, Peoria and Springfield all have two dispensaries nearby.

Cities or metro areas with one dispensary include Carbondale, Effingham, Ottawa, the Quad Cities, Quincy and Rockford.

Will other Illinois cities get a dispensary?

The state of Illinois will begin receiving and processing new license applications on March 15. Until then, only existing medical dispensaries will be licensed to sell recreational.

The state will issue new dispensary licenses to approved applicants on May 1 and begin a disparity study of the cannabis market.

On July 1, up to 40 grower and infuser licenses will be issued. An unlimited number of transport licenses, which allow for the in-state transportation of cannabis products, will also be issued.

When the state finishes the disparity and market studies, it will consider issuing additional licenses if needed. The new licenses must consider the findings of the disparity study, per the law, formally known as the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. It includes provisions to help communities that have suffered because of enforcement of drug policies. For example, it provides for expungement of minor marijuana offenses under certain circumstances, and codifies promotion of cannabis business ownership by people who lived in high-poverty areas particularly affected by enforcement of marijuana-related laws.

How is Illinois taxing marijuana?

The higher you get, the higher the price:

• Cannabis products with a THC level of 35% or less: 10%

• All cannabis-infused products, like edibles: 20%

• Cannabis products with a THC level of 35% or higher: 25%

State and local taxes will also apply. The state law allows for municipalities to tax up to 3%. Springfield, for example, is taxing at the full 3%, with half of it going to police and fire pensions, and the other half going to economic development on the east side of Springfield, according to Alderman Doris Turner, D-3rd Ward.

Local sales taxes also apply. The Illinois sales tax is currently 6.25%.

Growers selling pay a 7% tax on wholesales. They may recover the tax by stating it as a separate charge to customers.

Where can marijuana be smoked legally in Illinois?

In private residences.

Illinois outlawed smoking in bars and restaurants in 2008. The Illinois cannabis law allows on-site lighting up at dispensaries where pot is sold or at licensed smoke shops. Municipalities cannot permit cannabis smoking in establishments where smoking is already banned by the 2008 law.

HCI Alternatives applied to open a smoking lounge in a portion of its downtown Springfield dispensary. The ordinance must first be recommended by the zoning commission before going back to city council.

The state law allows people to purchase recreational marijuana, Turner said. But for people living in public housing, or who have a landlord that doesn’t approve of cannabis consumption on their property, or for parents with kids, where can they use it?

“There are lots of restrictions,” on the use of the product, Turner said, “so I think it’s only fair there are locations where people can legally consume.”

She suggests people planning to frequent smoking lounges should follow the law, as expected with alcohol.

“They would identify a designated driver, or get an Uber,” Turner said.

Can marijuana purchased legally in Illinois be brought to St. Louis?

No.

Medical marijuana for licensed patients became legal at the end of 2018, though patients here still cannot buy it. Jack Cardetti of the Missouri Cannabis Trade Association said patients won’t be able to walk into a dispensary and purchase likely until late spring or early summer.

The two states do not currently have any legal language built into their laws for Missouri patients to buy legally in Illinois, or vice versa. Missouri patients will not be arrested for possession in Missouri, Cardetti said, but they are subject to following interstate commerce laws.

“As you dig more into marijuana law, you’ll see a lot of things like that,” he said.

The St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office said last year it would stop pursuing some cases involving possession of 100 grams of marijuana or less. Missouri legislators in 2014 eliminated the possibility of jail time for first-time offenders convicted of possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana.

If you do bring marijuana purchased in Illinois to the St. Louis area, here’s what you risk under Missouri law:

• Up to 10 grams, first offense: Up to $500 in fines.

• Up to 10 grams, second offense: Up to 1 year in jail and $2,000 in fines.

• More than 10 grams but less than 35: Up to 1 year in jail and $2,000 in fines.

• More than 35 grams: The charge is upgraded to a felony from a misdemeanor; up to 7 years in jail and $10,000 in fines.

Other crimes, such as sale, trafficking or distribution, face additional penalties.

Can I grow my own marijuana? In both Illinois and Missouri, medical patients can grow their own, with proper licensing. Cultivation for those without a medical permit is still illegal.

If Illinois legalized recreational cannabis sales and use, does that mean Missouri will, too? Time will tell.

“Obviously, the experience of other states will tell you that especially when neighboring states legalize adult-use marijuana, it’s a question of when, not if,” Cardetti said.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify the status of Washington D.C. and recreational marijuana. The district did legalize the use, but not the sale, of cannabis. Gifting marijuana is legal, and common in D.C.

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