Legal marijuana will be for sale in Illinois by January 1, Pritzker predicts

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With details of a recreational marijuana bill ironed out in Springfield, Governor JB Pritzker not only expects to see it on his desk by the end of the month, he says Illinoisans could be lighting up by January.

"It is possible, likely that it may be available through dispensaries beginning January 1, 2020," Governor Pritzker said.

The bill would make it legal for those over 21 to possess 30 grams, approximately an ounce, of marijuana. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who joined Pritzker for an unrelated news conference, said he has some concerns.

"Thematically, philosophically I think I support the governor but I say it also as a father of three, that you have to do it in a way that's not encouraging a type of behavior," Mayor Emanuel said.

That is one of the reasons opponents are still fighting the bill, even though it seems likely to pass.

"It's important that we send a message to the state and the governor. Governor, we need more work on this. This is not a bill that we want," said State Rep. Marty Moylan, (D) Des Plaines.

"Any change in drug policy should reduce drug use, not increase it. This bill will increase it," said Dr. Aaron, Weiner, Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

Part of the governor's bill would provide automatic expungements for about 800,000 people convicted of low-level marijuana possession offenses.

That social equity aspect drew praise from Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx.

"We're excited about that," Foxx said. "It's the logistics, how to get it done, that I think will be the real test."

Mayor-Elect Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor, is also on board.

"I think that the bill that was announced on Saturday is an important step forward, so I do support it," Lightfoot said.

The Governor had originally projected legalized marijuana would bring in about $170 million this year, mainly from licensing fees. But with the time frame they are now looking at, his office said they are going to be scaling back those numbers.
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