Marijuana clarification bill

A cleanup bill written to ensure a smooth rollout of the legalization of adult-use marijuana. Among other provisions, the bill would allow employers to maintain zero-tolerance policies.

SPRINGFIELD — A cleanup bill written to ensure a smooth rollout of the legalization of adult-use marijuana in January passed both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly on Thursday.

Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat who sponsored both the original legalization bill and the follow-up Senate Bill 1557 in the Senate, made clear that public consumption of cannabis will be allowed only at locations that have no food and drink.

“No restaurants, no bars, it can only be in a dispensary or retail tobacco store,” she said.

Those facilities will have to seek waivers from the Smoke Free Illinois Act from their local governments.

Other provisions in the bill:

• A “revolving door” provision of the law would prohibit future members of the General Assembly and their families from having a direct financial ownership interest in a cannabis business until two years after that lawmaker leaves public office. Rep. Celina Villanueva, a Chicago Democrat who carried Senate Bill 1557 in the House, said lawmakers who were in the chamber during the passage of the original cannabis bill and their spouses “currently have a lifetime ban on being able to have a stakeholder ownership” in the cannabis industry.

• Marijuana-related paraphernalia would no longer be illegal in Illinois.

• It would remain illegal to operate a snowmobile or any kind of watercraft while under the influence of marijuana.

• Bill strengthens and clarifies language that would allow employers to maintain zero-tolerance policies.

• It cleans up language that expunges criminal records for people who have standalone marijuana convictions on their records, specifically ensuring that outstanding fines do not limit access to expungement.

• It allows people ages 18 to 21 who are part of the medical marijuana program to consume combustible cannabis, while the previous version limited them to edible products.

• It moves up to July, from September, the earliest date municipalities and county governments can begin collecting taxes resulting from marijuana sales.

Villanueva said the technical changes in the bill were proposed by state agencies, lawmakers and stakeholders.

Rep. Curtis Tarver, a Chicago Democrat, questioned Villanueva on behalf of the Chicago Black Caucus and said he would not support the bill due to concerns of that caucus.

The bill passed the House 90-20 and the Senate 41-6.

A version of this story appeared in the Friday digital edition of the Daily Journal.

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