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Local

Despite legalization, public marijuana use still banned

Employers can enforce drug-free workplaces

SPRINGFIELD — While marijuana consumption and possession will become legal for Illinois residents over 21 years of age starting Jan. 1, 2020, consumption in public places will still be prohibited, and local governments will maintain control as to whether the industry can conduct business within their jurisdictions.

Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed House Bill 1438 into law June 25, making Illinois the first state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use marijuana consumption and sales through the legislature rather than by ballot initiative. The legislative process allowed lawmakers to craft a comprehensive 610-page regulatory bill with bipartisan support.

Consumption is allowed at a private residence but prohibited in any public place and in the proximity of a person under 21 years of age who is not a licensed medical patient. Landlords can prohibit marijuana use on their premises as well.

Anyone operating a car, boat or plane is prohibited from consuming marijuana, although possession is permissible in a motor vehicle if the marijuana product is placed in a “secured, sealed container and reasonably inaccessible while the vehicle is moving.”

Consumption and possession are prohibited at corrections facilities and on school grounds unless for licensed medical use. Consumption by a school bus driver, police officer, firefighter or corrections officer is also prohibited while they are on duty, and is not allowed at any residence that serves as a child care facility.

Local governments maintain authority under the new law as well, but they cannot ban individual possession of marijuana or marijuana products. A unit of government may, however, prohibit or significantly limit a cannabis business establishment’s location within its jurisdiction.

“Locals get to determine where these facilities exist in their communities,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a Chicago Democrat and the bill’s House sponsor.

Local governments can decide whether the on-premises consumption of marijuana is allowed at marijuana-related business establishments within their jurisdiction, as the new law allows local governments to exempt these facilities from limitations in the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

Municipalities can also enact zoning restrictions pertaining to licensed cultivation centers, craft growers, processing organizations and dispensaries.

Despite local control, the law requires at least 1,500 feet between each retail dispensary.

“We don’t want to see the liquor-store-on-every-corner phenomenon happen,” Cassidy said.

Colleges and universities may continue to prohibit marijuana use on campus in accordance with federal regulations, and any business may prohibit use on private property.

Only licensed medicinal patients will be able to grow up to five cannabis plants in their own homes, unless the property is rented, in which case they would need written consent from the property owner.

The new law also allows employers to continue to maintain drug-free workplaces and zero-tolerance drug-use policies provided they are non-discriminatory. Employers will also maintain the right to discipline or fire an employee for violating workplace drug policies.

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