Life Stories

Q&A: What to know when recreational marijuana becomes legal in Illinois Jan. 1

Where will I be able to buy recreational marijuana?

So far, 35 medical marijuana dispensaries across Illinois have been approved to also sell recreational marijuana.

What will I need in order to purchase?

You’ll need a state-issued ID or driver’s license to enter a dispensary. No medical card is needed, but your ID will need to be unaltered.

Can I use a credit card to purchase?

Probably not. Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, most credit card companies don’t work with dispensaries or other cannabis-related entities, so you should come prepared with cash. Many dispensaries will have ATMs on-site if you forget, however.

How much will it cost?

That varies widely based on the kind of product and the potency, as well as by dispensary. However, expect to pay the following in taxes:

  • Marijuana-infused products: 20% tax
  • Products with less than 35% THC (the compound that gets you high): 25% tax
  • Products with more than 35% THC: 10% tax
  • Municipalities may also legally collect up to 3% in additional taxes.

Who can purchase?

Only adults 21 or older will be allowed to purchase.

How much will I be allowed to purchase?

It depends on where you’re a resident. Illinois residents can purchase up to 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC-infused products (edibles). Out-of-state visitors will be able to buy half those amounts. Dispensaries will determine your residency based on your state-issued ID or driver’s license.

Where will I be allowed to use recreational marijuana?

Only in your home. It will still be illegal to use cannabis products in public places, including CTA vehicles and in public venues. Law enforcement in Chicago, however, shouldn’t ticket you if you smoke on your balcony or in your backyard.

Will there be more dispensaries in the future?

All dispensaries that have been approved to sell recreational marijuana were already approved for medical marijuana licenses. Illinois’ 55 medical cannabis dispensaries were able to apply for the same-site licenses to sell recreational marijuana. They were also able to apply for second-site licenses, and Illinois will award 75 licenses to new applicants by May 1, 2020 and 110 more by Dec. 21, 2021.

Will my record get wiped clean if I got arrested for possession before?

Yes, your record will automatically be expunged if you had up to 30 grams of marijuana on you and it didn’t lead to a conviction. If it was more than 30 but less than 500 grams, you can file a motion to vacate your record. The records won’t be cleared for cases where the possession was also connected to a violent crime.

What do people mean when they say “social equity”?

This is meant to help “those most adversely impacted by the enforcement of drug related laws in this state” get involved with the sale of recreational cannabis. You can apply to be considered for fee waivers, low-interest loans and grants if 51% or more of the company is made up of people who meet the following requirements:

• Have lived in a Disproportionately Impacted Area in five of the last 10 years

• Have been arrested for, or convicted of, cannabis-related offenses deemed eligible for expungement

• Have a parent, child or spouse who qualifies for expungement

Can I grow my own marijuana?

Only medical patients will be allowed to grow their own marijuana, and they will be limited to five plants.