Illinois becomes 11th state to legalize marijuana

Illinois becomes the 11th state to legalize marijuana

Illinois Becomes the 11th State to Legalize Marijuana

For those who have been following news related to the legalization of marijuana, also known as cannabis, you may have heard that Illinois recently became the 11th state to make consuming, purchasing, and possessing marijuana for recreational purposes legal. The passing of House Bill 1438, which is similar to the laws that legalized marijuana in Colorado and Washington State in 2012 as well as Alaska, California, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington D.C in 2018, allows individuals to possess up to 30 grams of the substance without legal consequence. It is important to note that the legalization of recreational marijuana in these states further removes many of the misconceptions that people had about it.

De-stigmatizing Cannabis

Whether you refer to it as cannabis, ganja, hashish, weed, or Mary Jane, the cannabis Sativa plant has been shown to help reduce stress, combat anxiety, and ease chronic pain. There is also plenty of scientific evidence that shows the all-natural substance is capable of resolving several other health problems as well. For these reasons, many people have admitted to using cannabis even when doing so was illegal. This is especially true in the state of Illinois, which is home to over 800,000 individuals who currently have a criminal record after being convicted of using, purchasing, or possessing cannabis, according to an article published by NBC News.

One of the reasons why many people are slow to embrace cannabis is because it contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), a chemical that triggers a euphoric high. However, what many fail to realize is that THC is only one of the many cannabinoids native to the cannabis Sativa plant. CBD (cannabidiol), which is the cannabinoid that seems to be gaining a lot of attention from the medical and, to an extent, the federal government as of late, has been linked to an array of health benefits.

In fact, it has gained so much attention that in 2018 the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication prescribed to treat seizures. And in the same year, the U.S. Senate and House passed the Farm Bill, which legalized CBD-based products. Given that the federal government has embraced CBD, it is not too surprising to find that more states, including Illinois and many others, are starting to follow suit by legalizing CBD and cannabis as a whole.

As far as the THC in cannabis is concerned, state and federal government officials acknowledge that cannabinoid, much like CBD, has real therapeutic value. A study published in Health Europa, a quarterly digital publication covering topics related to health and healthcare research, revealed that the combination of THC and CBD is effective in resolving feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. In short, cannabis, along with high grade CBD products like oils, gummies, and creams, are providing countless people with a better quality of life. Of course, it is always best to purchase products from reputable retailers, such as Lokus, for example, that are made from high grade CBD oil.

What does legalize recreational marijuana mean for the state of Illinois?

Now that individuals who call Illinois home have the freedom to purchase cannabis and high grade CBD products without the fear of being arrested and incarcerated, things are looking very different in the Midwestern state commonly referred to as the Land of Lincoln. For example, state officials have already announced plans to expunge the criminal records of the more than 800,000 individuals who have been convicted of purchasing or possessing 30 or fewer grams of cannabis. Beyond that, there are even more reasons for those who partake in cannabis to rejoice. According to an article published by the Illinois Policy Institute, a libertarian and conservative nonprofit think tank with locations in Chicago and Springfield, House Bill 1438, which was signed into law by Governor Jay Robert, allows individuals who are age 21 and over to purchase and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis for medical or non-medical reasons legally.

How will legalized cannabis impact the economy in Illinois?

The legalization of cannabis represents a win for not only the individuals who enjoy the all-natural herb but also for those who will soon have their criminal records expunged, not to mention the state’s local economy. According to the same article published by the Illinois Policy Institute, individuals who buy CBD in Illinois, either online or at a brick-and-mortar location, that contains less than 35 percent will be hit with a 10 percent sales tax on their purchase. Most economists believe that this 10 percent sales tax will further boost the state’s local economy, which is already billed as the fifth-largest in America in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) and also one of the most diversified in the world. To put this into perspective, the tax revenue derived from the sale of cannabis and cannabis-related products could potentially generate more than $800 million for Illinois’ local economy, according to Governor Pritzker.

How legalized cannabis could lead to big business in the state of Illinois

For those who are interested in cashing in on the legalization of cannabis in the state of Illinois, there is no time like the present. Effective mid-2020, the state will reportedly be granting licenses to dozens of new stores, which will provide consumers with even more access to quality cannabis. These same licenses will also be granted to processors, cultivators, and transporters as well. To better understand why Illinois is ramping up licensing, we need only take a look at consumer demand for recreational cannabis in the state. On Jan. 1, 2020, the first day that cannabis became legal, Illinois saw over $3 million in sales, according to an article published by the Chicago Tribune. That said, the state is anticipating the opening of 295 more dispensaries by the year 2022 to help keep pace with what will likely be an ongoing demand for recreational cannabis.

What you should know before opening a cannabis dispensary

Although you will likely see a sizeable return on your investment, there are high startup costs associated with opening a cannabis dispensary. According to Brightfield Group, the leading consumer insights and market intelligence firm for the cannabidiol and cannabis industries, consumers in Illinois are on track to spend an estimated $420 million at Illinois dispensaries in 2020. And sales are expected to reach or exceed $1.3 billion by 2023, according to the same statistical data. That said, those who are interested in opening a cannabis dispensary will have to pay a $100,000 application fee as well as a cannabis business development fee, which can be anywhere from $250,000 to $750,000.

Along with these startup costs, there are also insurance premiums that you will have to pay, which are often higher for cannabis dispensaries than other businesses. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, many dispensaries, even those in well-established markets, such as Colorado, for example, are having a hard time finding inclusive and affordable insurance. And the ones that do will usually be stuck with policies that are not only restrictive but also very expensive, ranging anywhere from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands every year.

Bottom line

All in all, there are big things on the horizon for the legalized cannabis market in Illinois, and they are sure to benefit those who are interested in opening a dispensary, individuals with a criminal record relating to the purchase and possession of cannabis, and even the state’s local economy.

Image credit: Unsplash

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