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Illinois Lieutenant Governor Buys Marijuana On State’s First Day Of Legal Sales



The lieutenant governor of Illinois was among the first customers to purchase marijuana on the state’s first day of legal sales on Wednesday.

Shortly after the Sunnyside Lakeview dispensary opened its doors, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) bought clementine-flavored edible gummies and paid with cash. The event marks the beginning of Illinois’s adult-use program, which went into effect with the new year, months after Gov. J. B. Pritzker (D) signed legalization legislation into law.

The reform move has been widely welcomed by top lawmakers in the state. But while there’s enthusiasm about the economic and industry potential of the nascent cannabis market, much of the focus has concentrated on social equity and ensuring that communities most impacted by prohibition reap the benefits of legalization.

Video via CBS Chicago.

To that end, Prtizker announced on Tuesday that he had issued more than 11,000 pardons for people previously convicted of low-level marijuana possession.

“We believe the social equity aspects of this legislation should be a model for the entire country,” Stratton said outside of the cannabis shop. “Yesterday, Governor Pritzker pardoned 11,017 low-level cannabis arrests and convictions. That’s just the beginning.”

“We have hundreds of thousands more who will be eligible for having their records expunged. That’s a big deal,” she said.

This appears to be the first time a lieutenant governor has publicly purchased marijuana from a state-legal shop. But while there were smiles all around at the Sunnyside shop, not everyone is celebrating.

Kevin Sabet of the prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana had a few choice words for Stratton.

“What a wonderful example for the children of Illinois,” he sarcastically wrote in a tweet about the lieutenant governor’s cannabis purchase.

“We hope you will remember today’s marijuana is not benign, leads to mental illness and car crashes in many cases,” he said in another tweet.

In any case, more top politicians seem to be participating in the market recently, paying visits to shops and farms to learn about the billion-dollar industry.

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg—a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate—toured a dispensary in Las Vegas in October, and he emphasized the need for equitable participation in the market. Weeks later, a congresswoman visited a California cannabis shop and talked about the need for legislation to provide banking services to these businesses.

Two city councilmembers in California became the first elected officials to publicly use cryptocurrency to purchase marijuana from a dispensary in September. And then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) took a bus full of seniors to a dispensary in October 2018.

As has been the case in states across the country in the early days of legalization, lines are piling up as Illinois’s market goes online, with the Chicago Tribune reporting that people are waiting hours to make their purchases.

That should change as the novelty of the experience wanes, but Stratton and other top officials have made clear that this is just the start of the process, which they say will center on repairing the harms of prohibition while at the same time promoting an equitable and lucrative marijuana market.

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Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.

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