CBA Record Sept-Oct 2019


tion provides for an expedited, automatic expungement process within two years of the effective date of the CRTA, allowing for the expungement of all cannabis-related crimes involving 30 grams of cannabis or less, as long as the charge was not brought along with any violent crime charge. Those convicted for possession of between 30 and 500 grams, which includes Class 4 felonies, would be able to petition for expungement on an individual basis; local state’s attorneys may also pursue expungement of these con- victions on a case-by-case basis. According to the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council, some 770,000 Illinois residents could qualify to have their records cleared of low-level marijuana crimes under the CRTA. From 2013 to 2017, the number of individuals in prison due to a violation of the Cannabis Control Act has dropped from 770 to 372, now making up just 0.9% of the Illinois prison population (as of June 2017, another 360 were on parole for cannabis-related charges). There is no doubt that these numbers will continue to drop once the CRTA goes into effect. Some legal aid groups, such as Illinois Legal Aid Online, have said they will begin to provide services to those looking to expunge or seal their records under the new law. Passing this expungement provision was no small victory. New Jersey’s efforts to legal- ize recreational cannabis stalled largely over similar expungement provisions, whichmay have sapped some of the momentum from neighboring New York’s efforts to legalize. Business Licenses While individuals are primarily interested in the legalization of cannabis sale and pos- session, the law means little if businesses are not ready to supply the new demand for legal cannabis.That is why the legislation provides for five types of cannabis business licenses: (1) dispensary, (2) processor, (3) transporter, (4) craft grower, and (5) cultivation center. A craft grower may grow up to 5,000 square feet of cannabis plant, with the potential for authorization of up to 14,000 square feet. A cultivation center may contain up to 210,000 square feet of space for flowering plants; up to 30 cultivation center licenses may be issued initially. The CRTA provides for “early approval” licenses that will allow existing medical can-

Whether intentional or not, Illinois has now become a testing ground for cannabis legalization. 2020 democratic presidential hopefuls are formulating legalization propos- als informed, in part, by Illinois’ efforts, and will surely be looking to the state’s successes and failures to inform any legalization efforts at the federal level. We can only hope that the successes will predominate.

nabis cultivators and dispensaries to begin selling cannabis products to the wider adult population on January 1, 2020. Some worry, however, that the heavy licensing fees may consolidate the market into a few large corporate players. For example, a cultivation license requires an initial $100,000 application fee, and then an annual “cannabis business development fund fee” equal to 5% of the center’s sales, or $500,000, whichever is less. Additionally, the legislation sets up a comprehensive new tax system for the cultivation and purchase of cannabis, depositing all tax revenue into the new Cannabis Regulation Fund. Equity Through Ownership In part because of licensure costs, other states that have legalized cannabis have seen sharp consolidation in ownership. For example, since California passed Proposition 64 in 2016, which legalized recreational cannabis, the number of farmers that apply for can- nabis growing licenses has dropped from more than 30,000 (when only medical-use cannabis was legal) to 2,200, according to California NORML. Prop 64 turned can- nabis into what some call “themost regulated crop in the nation’s most regulated state.” While the CRTA does not set out quite the same rigorous regulatory regime that Cali- fornia does, continuing tomake the cannabis business viable for small or economically disadvantaged players is a key concern of the legislation. The CRTA creates a $20 million low- interest loan program for qualified “social equity applicants” to help defray the startup costs associated with licensing. This cre- ates an opportunity for businesses with at least 51% ownership and control by indi- viduals from disproportionality impacted areas. Larger organizations can meet this requirement by having 51% or more of its employees from such disproportionality impacted areas. Social equity applicants will also be eligible for a 50% waiver of any non-refundable license application fees. Illinois: (Cannabis) Pioneer State It remains to be seen if the efforts to promote social equity will have their intended effect, but they are some of the most comprehen- sive legislative efforts to remedy the ills that discriminatory drug policies have wrought on disadvantaged communities.

Tony Traina is an attorney-at-law in Chicago.

Dates subject to change. See details/ registration at October 2019 Justice John Paul Stevens Award Luncheon – October 17 Barrister Big Band Concert at Harold Washington Library – October 18 Pro BonoWeek – October 21-25 Young Lawyers Section Pro Bono and Volunteer Fair – October 23 One-on-One Career Counseling with Kathy Morris – October 23 CBA Event Calendar November 2019 Career Coffee & Conversation – November 7 CBA Moot Court Competition – November 14-16 CBF Fall Benefit – November 16 One-on-One Career Counseling with Kathy Morris – November 19 December 2019 The Bar Show: For Lying Out Loud! – December 5-7 Young Lawyers Section Holiday Party – December 12


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