Illinois Democrats Form Cannabis Working Group To Steer Industry Expansion

Since the landmark 2019 legalization law, cannabis use has become increasingly widespread in the United States. Over half of U.S. states have legalized or decriminalized recreational use of marijuana and three-quarters allow it to be used for medical purposes.[0] A study conducted in 2019 estimated that about 18% of U.S. adults used marijuana that year.[1]

In an effort to steer the burgeoning industry’s expansion in a business-friendly way while still satisfying the equity goals of the law, Illinois House Democrats announced the formation of a cannabis working group Thursday.[2] The same law that legalized recreational cannabis use also made individuals previously charged with minor cannabis offenses eligible to have their records expunged.[3] As a result, at the end of 2020, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced 492,129 cannabis-related convictions had been expunged and 9,219 low-level cannabis convictions had been pardoned.[3]

Illinois recorded a record-high of $1.5 billion in recreational cannabis sales in Fiscal Year 2022, generating about $445 million in tax revenue.[3] Under the law, 25% of the taxes collected from recreational cannabis sales are to go to economically distressed communities or those impacted by the war on drugs.[3] For the 2022 fiscal year, the General Revenue Fund was allocated $115 million from tax income.[3]

Reps. Maurice West (D-Rockford) and LaShawn K. Ford (D-Chicago) have both introduced bills – House Bills 1436 and 1498 – to create a cannabis oversight commission.[3] The bill includes punishments for growers who leave cannabis in an area where a person under 21 years old may gain access to it.[4]

Individuals aged 21 and over are now legally allowed to buy a maximum of three ounces of marijuana in one transaction.[5] The state will grant a cultivator license to adults unless good cause is demonstrated to refuse it.[5] Any cultivation of plants which is visible to the public may result in a fine of up to $250 and the confiscation of the plants.[5] Upon the third offense, the crime may be elevated to a misdemeanor.[5]

0. “Cannabis News – High Desert Relief”, 27 Feb. 2023,

1. “More frequent cannabis use associated with higher risk of coronary …”, 27 Feb. 2023,

2. “House Dems' cannabis working group to engage industry | Local …”, 27 Feb. 2023,

3. “Illinois House Dems' cannabis working group will engage industry …”, 27 Feb. 2023,

4. “Homegrown cannabis bill introduced in Washington House | News …”, 27 Feb. 2023,

5. “Recreational cannabis sales to start Feb. 6 | News …”, 27 Feb. 2023,