Illinois House Democrats Form Cannabis Working Group to Steer Legalization Expansion

As more states legalize or decriminalize recreational and medical cannabis use in the United States, a study conducted in 2019 estimated that about 18% of U.S. adults used marijuana in that year.[0] In response to this trend, the Illinois House Democrats announced the formation of a cannabis working group on Thursday in order to steer the industry’s expansion in a business-friendly way while still satisfying the equity goals of the landmark 2019 legalization law.[1]

The law made individuals previously charged with minor cannabis offenses eligible to have their records expunged and resulted in 9,219 low-level cannabis convictions being pardoned.[2] The same law also stipulates that 25% of the taxes collected from recreational cannabis sales go to economically distressed communities or those impacted by the war on drugs.[2]

The formation of the cannabis working group follows the passage of House Bills 1436 and 1498, which seek to create a cannabis oversight commission.[2] The bills also include punishments for growers who leave cannabis in an area where they should reasonably expect a person under 21 years old may gain access to it.[3]

Adults 21 and over can now purchase up to three ounces of marijuana per transaction, with cultivators needing to keep plants out of sight of the public or face a penalty of up to $250 and be forced to surrender the plants.[4] The measure also seeks to prohibit local law enforcement from making low-level marijuana-related arrests and stipulates that police cannot “consider the odor of marijuana or hemp to constitute probable cause for any search or seizure.” The brief concludes by saying that unless law enforcement suspects an individual is operating a vehicle under the influence, the odor of marijuana and marijuana containers will not constitute probable cause for a search or arrest, or for public assistance benefits and parental rights to be denied for lawful use of marijuana.

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

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

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

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

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