Recreational marijuana use is grabbing attention in three states that appear poised at some point to clear the way for adults to buy and possess cannabis for reasons other than medicinal purposes.
Illinois is set to become the 11th state in the nation to legalize recreational marijuana.
State lawmakers this week passed a legalization bill, and it’s one that’s likely to be signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker, who Tweeted prior to the bill’s passage: “In the interest of equity and criminal justice reform, I look forward to signing this monumental legislation.”
The bill will allow the state’s 55 existing medical dispensaries to apply to sell recreational marijuana. The vote on the bill was 66 to 47 in the House. The bill was passed by the state Senate 38 to 17.
The bill provides that driving under the influence of cannabis will remain illegal, that “legitimate, taxpaying business people, and not criminal actors, will conduct sales of cannabis,” and that cannabis sold in this state will be tested, labeled, and subject to additional regulation to ensure that consumers are protected.
Existing medical dispensaries can also apply to open a second location, which means more than 100 dispensaries could be selling marijuana by the beginning of next year.
Dispensaries are renovating their spaces and streamlining processes to serve more customers, so by the time recreational marijuana goes on sale Jan. 1 their spaces will be able to handle the crowds of customers, the Chicago Tribune is reporting.
“They are looking at technology that can add efficiency, like the software restaurants use to text diners when their table is ready, and systems that let customers preorder their marijuana,” a Tribune article appearing on Thursday states. “The order would be ready when the customer arrives, just like a restaurant can prepare a meal for pickup.”
Efforts to legalize marijuana in Delaware cleared an initial legislative hurdle this week when the House Revenue and Finance Committee voted to send the measure to the full House for consideration.
The bill, being touted by proponents as a revenue-generating proposal, would enable adults over age 21 could buy and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, while the state government would collect a 15 percent tax on sales of marijuana products, as well as licensing fees for cultivation, manufacturing, sales and testing facilities.
The Delaware Marijuana Control Act regulates and taxes marijuana in the same manner as alcohol.
House Bill 110, which notes in its text that the creation of a legal framework to regulate the production and sale of marijuana in Colorado and Washington has generated a $1 billion industry and yielded more than 18,000 well-paying jobs in each state, states:
“Delaware recognizes the economic benefits of a legal marijuana market as well as the importance of regulating the substance in a manner similar to alcohol and restricting its use to persons over 21 years old.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said this week he doesn’t believe legislation legalizing recreational marijuana in New York will pass before lawmakers adjourn for the year this month.
The Democrat governor, who supports legalization, said he doesn’t think there will be enough votes in the state Senate to pass the bill before lawmakers finish their session on June 19.
While there’s broad support for legalization, lawmakers have so far failed to reach a consensus on the details of taxing and regulating cannabis.
“I don’t think it’s feasible at this point. I don’t think it matters how much I push in 11 days. I think when the Senate says we don’t have the votes, I take them at the word,” Cuomo told reporters.
Senate Bill S1527A, The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, was introduced by state Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan.
The bill states:
“The intent of this act is to regulate, control, and tax marihuana in a manner similar to alcohol, generate millions of dollars in new revenue, prevent access to marihuana by those under the age of twenty-one years, reduce the illegal drug market and reduce violent crime, reduce participation of otherwise law-abiding citizens in the illicit market, end the racially disparate impact of existing marihuana laws and create new industries and increase employment.”
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