Marijuana has been in the decriminalization process since 1973 with many states over the years passing laws to either authorize the use of marijuana or prohibit it. It is time to stop treating marijuana like a deadly drug, when science and public opinion agree that it is relatively safe for adult recreational and medical use. With recreational and medical marijuana on the verge of nationwide legalization, marijuana growers and dispensaries and grow facilities popping up everywhere.

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Illinois has awarded its first five adult-use cannabis retail licenses, with dozens more licenses expected to be issued in the coming weeks.

State regulators announced Aug. 29 that 3C Compassionate Care Centers’ locations in Joliet and Naperville, The Clinic Mundelein, The Clinic Effingham and Saveo Health and Wellness in Canton received licenses to sell to the adult-use market beginning Jan. 1, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report.

Under the state’s adult-use cannabis law, Illinois residents can legally possess up to 30 grams of flower and up to 5 grams of concentrates. Initial adult-use cannabis retail licenses will be granted to the state’s existing medical dispensaries, but state law allows municipalities to prohibit adult-use sales, which could cause location challenges for some existing businesses.

Some medical dispensaries have said state officials initially indicated that they could move to a new location should their municipality ban adult-use sales, but in recent weeks, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has told operators that if they choose to move, they will not be issued an adult-use license, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

For this first group of licensees, Joliet and Canton support adult-use businesses, the Chicago Sun-Times reported, while the other three municipalities have not yet decided whether to allow recreational cannabis sales.

State Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, sponsors of the legislation that legalized adult-use cannabis in Illinois, have shown support for more flexibility in the interpretation of the law, arguing that existing medical dispensaries should be able to get adult-use licenses at new locations, not just their current ones.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker weighed in on the issue in an Aug. 27 letter, indicating that while he appreciates the concerns raised, regulators are monitoring the situation and assessing how many dispensaries are affected by municipal bans before taking any action to remedy the situation.

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