Recreational Marijuana Use Legislation Introduced in Illinois

By Kelly A. Hayden, JD, Chief Legal Counsel
Published May 14, 2019

As expected (and promised by Governor Pritzker during his campaign), a bill legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Illinois was recently introduced in Springfield. If it passes, Illinois will be the first state to legalize recreational use through legislation rather than through a ballot initiative. (Both New York and New Jersey attempted this path and failed.)

marijuana joint

The law lays out the requirements to grow and sell marijuana, and the fees are significant—the state is counting on revenue from licensure fees. Further, the state, as well as local governments, will have the ability to collect sales taxes depending upon the strength of the product sold. For example, the state proposes to collect a 10% sales tax on products with less than 35% THC, 20% on cannabis infused products, and 25% on products with more than 35% THC. Local governments can also add a 3% tax, counties a .5% tax, and unincorporated areas a 3% tax. The tax revenue is designated for particular funds, including unpaid bills, public health, addiction issues, and law enforcement, among others.

How this legislation affects employers remains to be seen, but the proposal does specifically modify the Right to Privacy in the Workplace Act by adding that use of cannabis during non-working hours is considered a lawful product. (Meaning that, like cigarettes or alcohol, an employer could not take action against an employee or applicant because he/she used cannabis when not at work.) Further, the legislation allows for the expungement of arrests and certain levels of marijuana-related convictions.

Governor Pritzker hopes to push the legislation through by the end of the spring session on May 31, 2019 with an enactment date of January 1, 2020 (growers would be issued licenses prior to that time). However, there are groups with several concerns related to the 522-page bill that hope to, at the very least, push it to the fall session. HR Source will follow this legislation closely and keep you apprised of its status. Members with questions can contact us at 800-448-4584 or

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