Despite legalization, public marijuana use remains prohibited in Illinois

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Recreational marijuana use and sale in Illinois will become legal for residents age 21 or older beginning January 1, 2020, but consumption in public places will still be prohibited.

Governor JB Pritzker signed the Cannabis Regulation and Taxation Act (CRTA) into law Tuesday, making Illinois the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

RELATED: Illinois Weed Legalization Guide

State Representative Kelly Cassidy championed the bill in the legislature before Governor Pritzker signed it into law.

Cassidy said more than 750,000 Illinois residents already admit to using marijuana illegally every month, and research shows there will not likely be a major increase in usage once it's legal.

"I think the biggest misconception is this idea that people are gonna wake up and decide they want to consume a product that's been pretty readily available to them for years. It just doesn't happen that way," Cassidy said.

Marijuana will be prohibited in public places including on school grounds and child care facilities. It will also be prohibited while operating a car, boat, or plane. Consumption will be allowed at private residences.

Some people have compared the law to when the state banned indoor cigarette smoking and smokers were forced outside. The biggest difference with that ban is that cigarette smoking was never illegal.

Supporters said the new law will not only allow the state to get tax money but also to put controls in place.

"This is legalization, yes, but it's really regulation and taxation," said Rev. Alexander Sharp, with the Clergy for a New Drug Policy.

Dispensaries already selling medical marijuana will get the first recreational licenses. The state will grant more recreational licenses in waves over the next several years.

The state hopes to collect more than $500 million in tax revenue.
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