As reported on this site this morning, the state of Illinois has fully embraced the world of legalized recreational marijuana. But, if I read Nancy Grover’s report correctly, they aren’t just wrapping their arms around the concept of freely available “Pot for All;” nay, they are using the platform to correct perceived social injustices, cure the ill that ails us, and make the world a better place.

Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. I wish people were around for a group hug.

According to the report, ‘Beginning in January, adults over 21 may purchase cannabis from licensed dispensaries — 30 grams of cannabis flower for Illinois residents and 15 grams for out-of-staters, in addition to other forms of the drug. The governor and other advocates are calling it the “most equity-centric law in the nation.”’

That’s a good thing. We need more “equity-centric” laws on the books. I don’t even know what it means, but I know enough that I should want it.

Governor Pritzker said with the signing of the bill, “This legislation will clear the cannabis-related records of nonviolent offenders through an efficient combination of automatic expungement, gubernatorial pardon and individual court action. I’m so proud that our state is leading with equity and justice in its approach to cannabis legalization and its regulatory framework. Because of the work of the people here today and so many more all across our state, Illinois is moving forward with empathy and hope.”

Hate to tell you, Guv baby, your state may be moving forward with empathy and hope, but it will only be doing so at about 5 miles per hour; mostly because everyone will be stoned on their ass.

Here are some of the highlights of the new law, along, of course, with my eloquent commentary. The law contains:

  • Creation of a $30 million low-interest loan program to help with start-up costs for entering the industry

Really? With all the cash floating around the cannabis industry, they need to offer low interest loans to get the industry underway? 

  • A ‘social equity applicant’ status for licensing

Ok, I had to look this one up. I originally thought this was politically correct crapola for “assuring only the people deemed by the government to be the right people should be licensed to sell pot.” These criteria, of course, would be based on anything other than business acumen, integrity and financial stability. But, in looking at similar efforts in Los Angeles, whose pot policies contains a Social Equity component, we find it is something else. According to their program: ‘The goal of the Social Equity Program is, “to promote equitable ownership and employment opportunities in the cannabis industry in order to decrease disparities in life outcomes for marginalized communities, and to address the disproportionate impacts of the War on Drugs in those communities.”’ In other words, yesterday you were a criminal drug pusher. Today you are business person of the year. I guess I was right. It really is an assurance that only the people deemed by the government to be the right people should be licensed to sell pot. 

  • Waiver of 50-percent of non-refundable license fees

Well, since we’ve had you in jail, it is the least we can do. Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  • Establishment of a grant program to “address the impact of economic disinvestment, violence, and the historical overuse of the criminal justice system”

We feel guilty about legalizing and collecting massive tax revenue doing the same thing we sent your ass to jail for. We will waste precious tax dollars developing a really boring program that no one will pay attention to in order to assuage our guilt and prove we are better people for the effort. On the positive side, political appointees and academics will get to attend expensive conferences and talk amongst themselves about all the issues that ail you.

  • Establishment of a DUI cannabis task force 

Seems prudent. Better set up a checkpoint in the drive through lane at all Taco Bells. 

  • Eligible expungement of some 700,000 records

Again, sorry for the prosecution. All is forgiven. I’ll bet Rod Blagojevich now wishes he had sold pot on the street instead of hawking Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

Of course, the rush to join the ranks of states offering legal recreational marijuana is not borne out of some sense to correct what they now believe to be misguided criminal prosecutions. No, this is more of a gold rush for a cash strapped state. The “social equity” portion is a conscience soothing afterthought. The state wants the money that legal pot sales will bring.

According to Grover’s report, the state’s Department of Revenue projects they will see new tax revenue and licensing fees of more than $57 million in fiscal year 2020. That will grow to $140.5 million in FY21, $253.5 million in FY 22 and $323.5 million in FY23.That will account for about 10% of the states projected $3.2 billion-dollar deficit, so huzzah to that little maneuver.

What goes largely unsaid in this development is the impact and increasing pressure on employers in the state. Illinois joins the ranks of other legal cannabis states in making workers’ compensation more complicated than it already was. Conflicting federal regulations along with inadequate impairment monitoring and detection will make managing workers’ comp more difficult. 

On the plus side, people who previously willingly violated the law will now be upstanding business owners in need of workers’ comp insurance to protect their growing enterprise. When everything has been made right in the world, what could possibly go wrong?


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