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As legalized cannabis poised to begin, Pritzker signs Steans’ tweaks to new law

steans 120419CHICAGO — Less than a month before cannabis cultivation and sale become legal in Illinois, Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation finalizing certain parts of the new statute alongside the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Heather A. Steans, at a ceremony in Chicago’s Cabrini-Green neighborhood.

“When we embarked on the long road to legalization of adult-use cannabis, we set out not just to end bad drug policy and lay the groundwork for opportunity in a new industry,” Steans said, “we also sought ways to make amends for how drug enforcement has ravaged communities. As we stand poised for legalization on Jan. 1, I want to thank everyone who worked tirelessly to make this legislation a reality, and I want to remind all of us that to ensure we see justice, we must listen to the community and respond to their concerns swiftly.”

Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1557, sponsored by Steans, which makes adjustments to her earlier legislation legalizing cannabis use by those 21 or older in Illinois. Among clarifications in the bill were provisions explicitly stating it is illegal to operate a snowmobile while under the influence of cannabis and that it no longer is illegal to possess “drug paraphernalia” associated with cannabis use.

“Legalization has become possible because members of the public are more informed and more willing to demand justice in drug policy,” Steans said. “I want to thank them for showing that Illinois is ready to leave behind punishment and embrace healing.”

Other provisions in the new legislation clarify:

  • that background search results exclude expunged cannabis convictions.
  • that outstanding fines cannot be a barrier to expunging past cannabis convictions.
  • that dispensaries or retail tobacco stores can have areas to use cannabis on-site, with restrictions similar to tobacco use.

The consumption and sale of cannabis by those over the age of 21 becomes legal in Illinois Jan. 1.

Senator Heather Steans

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7th District

Years served: 2008 - Present

Committee assignments: Appropriations I (Chairperson); Appropriations II; Environment and Conservation; Executive Appointments; Executive; Government Accountability/Pensions; Human Services.

Biography: Born May 8, 1963, in Lake Forest, IL; B.A. in Urban Studies from Princeton; M.A. in Public Policy from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government; former budget director, WI Department of Industry, Labor and Human Relations and former strategic planner, Chicago Public Schools; married (husband, Leo Smith) with three children.

Associated Representatives:
Kelly M. Cassidy
Gregory Harris