The Drug War took another blow to the chest on June 25, 2019.
That day the state of Illinois became the 11th state to enact marijuana legalization.
When Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed SB2275 into law, Illinois became the first to pass a tax-and-regulate marijuana bill via legislative means. The majority of states have legalized the drug by means of voter referenda and similar initiatives.
SB2275 goes into effect on January 1, 2020. The new law allows all adults 21 and up to consume, possess, and purchase a specified amount of cannabis. Further, individuals who were previously convicted for possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis will have these possession charges expunged from their record.
As he was signing the bill into law, Governor Pritzker declared ““As the first state in the nation to fully legalize adult use cannabis through the legislative process, Illinois exemplifies the best of democracy—a bipartisan and deep commitment to better the lives of all of our people.”
The Illinois Governor concluded, “Legalization of adult use cannabis brings an important and overdue change to our state, and it’s the right thing to do.”
From a libertarian standpoint, there are some dubious aspects to this law, however. Marijuana Moment reports that this bill slaps some taxes on marijuana sales, which are detailed below:
“Marijuana sales for flower containing up to 35 percent THC will be taxed at 10 percent. There will be a 25 percent tax on products containing more than 35 percent THC. And cannabis-infused products will be taxed at 20 percent. That’s in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax; local jurisdictions have the option to impose another 3.5 percent tax.”
Indeed, marijuana products, or any other products, for that matter, should not be taxed or at least they should be taxed at low rates. These flaws notwithstanding, this new legislation marks a significant break from the draconian Drug War which has created a mass incarceration pipeline while destroying the civil liberties of millions of Americans since the Drug War was waged in earnest starting in the 1970s.
This legislation is a step in the right direction. The flaws of SB2275 can be corrected in future instances and could serve as opportunities for free-market leaders to position their libertarian ideas on taxes and regulation.
However, all libertarians can come to an agreement that the Drug War needs to go and SB2275 continues this positive trend.