Illinois Becomes 11th Recreational Cannabis State – The Cannonball Run is Close!
With all the news this week about Governor Pritzker signing into law the recreational cannabis bill, making Illinois the 11th state to approve a recreational cannabis program, one interesting fact that people are missing is that we are very close to land-locked route to be able to travel from California to Maine only through medical or recreational legal states.
The new law allows Illinois residents age 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of cannabis flower or bud, 5 grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC in products such as edibles. It also will expunge the records of 800,000 people with criminal records as a result of purchasing or possessing 30 grams or less of marijuana. It earmarks a quarter of the tax revenue from the sale of cannabis to redevelop impoverished communities in the state and gives vendor preference to minority owners.
Illinois going recreational is a huge “get” for the cannabis industry as it is the 6th most populous state in the country with close to 13,000,000 people. Chicago, the hub of the Midwest, has close to 2,800,000 people alone. Why did Illinois move so quickly on getting recreational cannabis approved through its legislature and not a common vote? Debt. Illinois has massive public debt in the form of underfunded public pension funds. Their state debt grade is closing in on junk ratings and they are in desperate need of some form of new taxes and revenue to help stop the massive debt overload. Legal cannabis is one way to find some tax revenue as Colorado just went over the $ 1 billion mark in tax revenue since cannabis become legal there a few years ago. Cannabis consumers would pay up to 34.75% tax on their purchases in Illinois, depending on potency.
Chicago, one of the largest cities in the US, also holds out hope as a good central location for a weed hub in America. You have a large central transportation system with railways and the Great Lakes. You have strong intellectual properties in the city with schools such as U. Chicago on the South Side and Northwestern on the North Side. The city itself has made push into being a startup center with heavy funding for projects such as The Mart in downtown Chicago. Three major incubators now call Chicago home or have offices in the city. The southern part of the state, as you head to the University if Illinois, is all farmland, farmland that could grow hemp and marijuana. The University of Illinois has a very strong agricultural program and with lower incomes in the southern part of Illinois, a cash crop like hemp and cannabis could be a boom for the local economy.
Is the Cannonball Run Next?
One interesting tidbit with Illinois going recreational is that we are getting very close to a cannonball run course from California to Maine where you can almost make the whole trip through legal cannabis states. Missouri and Indiana being the last real worrisome areas. Does that mean it is legal to transport your medical marijuana across each state line or that you can now legally drive THC products across the country without a problem? Absolutely not, but it does open the door to a less threating route to travel with cannabis, whether with your own medicine or a huge U-Haul full of weed. It also raises the tolerance level of those states if you do happen to get pulled over and checked. As we have mentioned in a few other articles, we may not be closer to Federal legalization but the repercussions or “negative incentives” for selling cannabis on the gray and black market are dropping off by the day. Creating corridors through the US that you could travel somewhat legally with weed will only encourage the cannonball runs that have been documents on TV, where the illegal cannabis market drives herb from California to NYC in a 36-hour run and then drives back. The risks around that drive are slowly diminishing and can almost all be done through states that have some form of legal marijuana.
Does that mean you can take 75 pounds of cannabis and drive it from the Emerald Triangle to the Bronx and not have any worries? No, we are not saying that, we are just showing on a map of how there is a now almost a continuous land route to cross the country is all legal cannabis states. Does that make crossing a state line legal, no. Does it mean your medical card will be honored in all states you are driving through in the US that have a medical program. No, but some states do have reciprocity rules where an MMJ card from one state is valid in another, states such as Nevada and Maine have laws on the books like this as well.
Trade routes have been very important through history for industry and countries to establish markets, the British were the first with the tea trade and with oceanic shipping, the US cannabis industry is very quickly getting a road map for trans-continental cannabis shipping lanes.