Pot dispensaries and special smoke shops will be the only place you can publicly consume marijuana next year under a change to state law approved by lawmakers Thursday.
After criticism from health advocates, lawmakers moved to curtail provisions in the state’s legalization law — dashing the hopes of some business owners who sought to allow pot use at their restaurants, bars and even beauty shops when adult recreational use becomes legal Jan. 1.
The law signed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker in June initially allowed localities to regulate pot use at cannabis businesses and offered an exemption to the Smoke Free Illinois Act to those establishments and other businesses that receive local approval to allow on-site consumption.
The new legislation clarifies that on-site consumption will only be allowed at dispensaries where marijuana is sold and at licensed smoke shops which — similar to cigar shops — will be granted an exemption to the smoke-free law.
Pritzker praised the changes to the law Thursday.
Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat who has led the legalization push, credited fellow lawmakers for passing the extensive clean-up bill with bipartisan support.
“We’re really pleased that we could be working that way to stand up a very strong legalization program come January,” Steans told the Sun-Times.
Conflicts of interests addressed
The measure also amends a conflict of interest provision that was added after it was reported that state Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, was leading a company that intends to enter the industry.
Starting in June 2021, members of the General Assembly and their immediate family members will now be prohibited from holding an ownership stake in any cannabis firm licensed in Illinois within two years of the legislator leaving office. Any member or family member that has an interest in a pot company will also have to divest within a year of the provision’s effective date.
The provision won’t apply to Candace Gingrich — the spouse of state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, another Chicago Democrat who sponsored the legalization law — who was tapped in July as the vice president and head of business development for Revolution Florida, a sister company to the Illinois-based cannabis firm Revolution Enterprises.
State employees that regulate the state’s pot industry and their immediate family members will also be prohibited from holding an ownership interest in any cannabis license within two years of being employed by the state.
More local tax revenue
The trailer bill also notably moves up the start date for local governments to start collecting sales taxes on recreational pot sales. That means Chicago and other cities across the state can start those collections in July, instead of September.
Last month, Mayor Lori Lightfoot estimated the city would net $3.5 million in the final four months of 2020. The proposal estimated that a local 3% excise tax would bring in $1 million, while increased sales tax revenue would drum up the rest of the cannabis cash.