Lightford052919SPRINGFIELD – Illinois residents 21 and older could soon be able to purchase and possess cannabis legally under legislation approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford (D-Maywood) voted in support of the legislation that creates an automatic expungement process, a Social Equity Program and a vocational training pilot program.

“Minority communities have struggled for decades under laws that overly criminalized cannabis,” Lightford said. “We made sure to include social justice aspects that work towards equity for our communities and start to make right the wrongs caused by the prohibition of cannabis.”

Minor cannabis offenses under 30 grams would be automatically expunged under the proposal, and a pardoning process would be put in place to address other nonviolent offenses. Those convicted of Class 4 or Class A misdemeanor offenses would be able to petition to expunge their offenses.

The Social Equity Program would help ensure the involvement of Black and Latino communities in the industry by providing access to grants and loans that help cover some up-front costs of participating in the cannabis industry.

House Bill 1438 also establishes the Recover, Reinvest and Renew program to provide support for communities disproportionately affected by unfair criminal justice practices.

Community colleges would also play a role by working with the Department of Agriculture to create eight programs across the state that teach students how to work with, study and grow cannabis to prepare them for a career in the legal cannabis industry.

The legislation will now head to the House on concurrence.

Category: News

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