Legalization of Marijuana

7 ways ILACP will respond;
What are your concerns now? 
June 3, 2019

Statement of President Steven Stelter

After the passage of HB 1438 on May 31, 2019 

Last week, the Illinois General Assembly passed HB 1438 (Senate Amendment 2), the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act. This was one of Governor JB Pritzker’s priorities, and he has promised to sign the bill. HB 1438 became the operative bill when sponsors moved the language from SB 7 to this House bill. You can now disregard SB 7.

Before the final House committee hearing on HB 1438 on Thursday night last week, there were 1,824 witness slips filed against the bill, and many of you were among them. Thank you for taking the time to do this. The opposition was obvious. Several legislators, in the floor debate, mentioned their conversations with their chiefs. They know we have no reliable device to test for impairment on our roadways, for example. They know more people will die on our roadways. And more than one African American legislator, in addition to the Illinois NAACP, said they can foresee more victimization of their communities when the dispensaries open. But in the end, a majority of legislators chose to ignore our warnings about what legalization of recreational marijuana will do to our state. We have seen it and we know.

 I don’t want to rehash the whole play-by-play of our involvement in strongly opposing this bill. I can say we worked especially hard on three aspects of the bad bill that was filed in early May: home grows, expungements, and workplace issues. We moved the needle considerably on each issue:

Home grows: The bill sponsors wanted home grows for everybody in Illinois, but the final version limits home grows to people with medical marijuana cards. This will cause problems in the illicit market, we know, but it’s better than it was.

Expungements: The bill sponsors were insisting for a long time on “automatic expungement for all,” including those who had felony possession convictions. The final version narrowed that considerably, and it’s too complicated to explain in this message. We are still going over it, and I can promise that explaining it and training for it will be a priority for us this year.

 Workplace issues: The sponsors tried to get “zero-tolerance” out of the bill, but we caught that “mistake” and got help from two law firms to fix this language. Thanks to Stew Weiss of Holland & Knight and Yvette Heintzelman and colleagues at Clark Baird Smith for helping to fix a lot of bad workplace language. This was cleaned up so well that the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, unfortunately, moved its position on the bill from opposed to neutral.

In the news a lot: I also want to remind you that our message did receive considerable attention in the news about this issue, and not just in recent weeks. Our past two presidents – James Kruger and Brian Fengel – as well as our executive director, fielded dozens of marijuana media calls and seized those opportunities to explain our positions. Also, our Facebook posts, directed by PR Committee chair Andy Johnson, had thousands of “engagements” and “shares,” and they also generated a great deal of commentary. Our message got out, and I am proud of that. We were in the news not only in Chicagoland and Springfield, but also in the St. Louis market in southern Illinois, where Edwardsville Chief Jay Keeven stepped up, at our request, to spread our message in that final hectic week.

Bottom line: Our Legislative Committee and ILACP staff and lobbyist worked tirelessly on this issue. We kept you updated with frequent Legislative Alerts. I was pleased to see, in April, that Chief Marc Maton got the President’s Award from then-President Brian Fengel for his work as chair of our Legislative Committee. Chief Maton spent time literally every day in communication with his committee members, our staff, our Board of Officers, and attorneys to fight the marijuana bill and simultaneously work on improvements in the bill’s language. Our members owe a debt of gratitude, again, to Maton.

 It was a priority of mine to fight this legislation, and we did. You can get the complete language of this 610-page bill by clicking on “PDF” at this link.

 The bad news is this law takes effect January 1, 2020. The first dispensaries will also open in 2020, but frankly, I expect to see more impaired drivers and more widespread possession and use of marijuana immediately – right now. It is our job to enforce the state’s laws, and we will, like we always do.

 Not surprisingly, during the long debates in both the House and Senate and their committees last week, the sponsors and the governor’s office frequently brushed off legitimate concerns and objections and sloppy language by promising to deal with these issues “in a trailer bill” later this year. That appeased many legislators, but it makes us more nervous because we cannot be certain what changes will be made.

 In the weeks and months to come, our association will: 

  1. Review the law in detail
  2. Engage in the “trailer bill” process in attempts to continue to clean up language
  3. Provide you with analysis and guidance in email blasts
  4. Organize this information on our website
  5. Work with the Illinois Sheriffs, Illinois State’s Attorneys, Illinois State Police and our legal advisors in the implementation
  6. Provide training sessions with experts available to give you specific guidance on the law’s implementation
  7. Help you be as ready as possible for the new law on January 1, 2020

Let’s hear from you, please: Let us know what concerns and questions you have

 I know that many of you have serious and legitimate questions and concerns about this bill. To help guide our communication and training efforts, please send these questions and concerns to [email protected]. We will compile them, keep them, and address them.