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What To Expect When The Illinois Marijuana Law Takes Effect


When the clock strikes midnight on Jan. 1 in Illinois, a whole lot more than the decade will be changing. While the start of the 2020s is certainly a big event, this upcoming Jan. 1 is also when Illinois’ marijuana law will take effect, making the Land of Lincoln the 11th state in the nation to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana.

As residents and businesses in the state gear up for the transition, it's important to know what exactly is going to change. To help, let's answer some of the most pressing questions you likely have about Illinois marijuana.

How did we get here?

On June 25, Gov. J.B. Pritzker — who promised on the campaign trail to legalize recreational marijuana — signed HB 1438, "The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act." 

Illinois became the first state to approve the use and sale of recreational marijuana through law, as opposed to ballot initiatives, like those voted on in California and Massachusetts (Vermont did legislate recreational use, but not sale). As a result, the wide-ranging law addresses use, sales, distribution, licensure, cultivation and penal reforms.

Will Verilife be selling recreational marijuana?

Yes. Our North Aurora, Romeoville, and Ottawa dispensaries will be selling recreational and medical marijuana. Our Arlington Heights dispensary will be medical-only. Click here to see a list of our Illinois locations.

How much can I possess?

This is the million-dollar question on the minds of many. After Jan. 1, Illinois residents who are 21 years and older will be able to possess up to:

  • 30 grams of cannabis flower (roughly equal to 1 ounce).
  • 5 grams of cannabis concentrate.
  • 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products such as edibles or tinctures.

Those limits are different for nonresidents, who will be able to possess 15 grams of flower, 2.5 grams of concentrate and no more than 250 milligrams of cannabis-infused products.

Where can I buy marijuana in Illinois?

On Jan. 1, only existing medical marijuana dispensaries with a license to sell recreational marijuana will have the opportunity to do so. There are 55 dispensaries in the state, and regulators are currently in the process of awarding licenses. By May 2020, however, the state plans to begin issuing new licenses to retail stores, processors and cultivators.

Will I be able to purchase in my hometown?

The law does not allow for localities within the state to ban the consumption or possession of marijuana intended for recreational uses. However, Illinois residents should know that while statewide it will be legal to sell recreational marijuana, municipalities can effectively ban the sale within their city limits through zoning and permitting of cannabis-related businesses. 

Some "bans" may only be temporary though until a voter referendum is held or a city council or governing body imposes additional decision-making.

How much tax will I pay?

The state projected it would raise $34 million in taxes on cannabis products alone in the fiscal year 2020, so purchasers of recreational should get over any sticker shock now. The tax schedule for Illinois marijuana breaks down to:

10% of the purchase price for cannabis with a THC level at or below 35%.
25% of the purchase price for cannabis with a THC level above 35%.
20% of the purchase price for all cannabis-infused products 

Counties and municipalities may also charge additional local sales tax. Importantly, medical marijuana bought by patients of the compassion program is not subject to these taxes.

Will these changes affect medical use?

According to the state, legalization of recreational use will not alter the state's medical cannabis program. Cultivators and dispensaries will be required to reserve sufficient supply to ensure patient access to marijuana is not interrupted.

Can I grow marijuana at home?

If you are a recreational user, the answer is no. However, Illinois medical marijuana patients will be authorized to grow up to five plants in their homes. A home-grow allowance for recreational users appeared in early drafts of the bill but was removed before the final version.

Can I smoke in public?

Smoking recreational marijuana is only allowed in one's private home or at certain sites of cannabis-related businesses. That means smoking on the street or in a park is still prohibited. In all, marijuana cannot be smoked:

  • At any public place
  • In any motor vehicle
  • On school grounds (with the exception of medical users)
  • In the vicinity of someone under the age of 21
  • Near an on-duty school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer

Will criminal records for marijuana arrests be amended in light of legalization?

A hallmark element of the Illinois law is the procedure established to clear the records of nonviolent offenders with misdemeanor marijuana possession offenses. Those who were previously arrested for possession and manufacture or possession and intent to deliver up to 30 grams and were not convicted will automatically have their arrests expunged.

Those convicted of possession under 30 grams can have their records referred to the state's Prisoner Review Board and Gov. Pritzker will review and determine if he will grant a pardon (as long as the offense is not related to violent crime.) Individuals and state's attorneys may also file motions to vacate convictions for possession up to 500 grams.

What more do I need to know?

Other changes that are part of the law include incentives for entrepreneurs to start minority-owned cannabis-related businesses (like reduced application fees and startup costs). Other legislative details relate to licensure for cultivation and distributors, as well as allocation of tax proceeds to economically disadvantaged areas.

Want to stay informed on everything to do with Illinois marijuana during the countdown to Jan. 1 and after? Visit for updates.


Please consume responsibly. For use only by adults 21 years of age or older or persons holding a patient registration card. There may be health risks associated with the consumption of cannabis. Cannabis can impair concentration, coordination, and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of cannabis. Use during pregnancy and breast-feeding may pose potential harms. Keep out of the reach of children. The impairment effects of edible cannabis may be delayed by two hours or more. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your cannabis use. The information and materials provided to you by PharmaCann should not be used as a substitute for the care and knowledge that your physician can provide to you. ©2019 PharmaCann. All rights reserved.

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