Week in Review | December 30, 2019 – January 3, 2020; January 1 New Laws Edition, Part III

McHenry, IL – This is the final installment of a three-part look at new laws taking effect January 1. Illinois’ new laws for 2020 cover everything from recreational cannabis sales to ensuring children are receiving adequate healthcare.

Recreational cannabis sales begin January 1
As of January 1, Illinois joins 10 other states and the District of Columbia in allowing the purchase and use of recreational cannabis.

Illinois residents ages 21 and older can buy and possess up to 30 grams of cannabis or 5 grams of concentrate from a licensed dispensary. Out-of-state residents will only be able to purchase up to 15 grams of cannabis or 2.5 grams of concentrate. Furthermore, medical marijuana cardholders will be allowed to grow up to five plants.

While I expressed public support for legalization before I was sworn into office and during this spring session, ultimately I voted “no” on House Bill 1438/Public Act 101-0027

Proponents of legalizing the adult use of recreational marijuana argued legalization would provide a framework to tax and regulate the emerging industry, providing for public safety, taxpayer protections, workplace protections, and local control. While there is acknowledgment that our current prohibition regarding marijuana does not work, I don’t think the measure went far enough to fully address my concerns about responsibility and accountability. 

I am also concerned about the anticipated negative social issues other states have dealt with since legalizing marijuana. The legislation failed to provide adequate funding for children’s education and prevention, addiction services and the likely need for additional law enforcement. I also foresee problems caused by the contrasting local ordinances passed by some municipalities regulating marijuana sales while others “opt-out” and continue the prohibition. Different municipal ordinances and law enforcement activities throughout the state will likely lead to resident confusion and frustration. 

Finally, during the negotiations, less-than-desirable changes were included – such as extreme expungement of criminal records linked to marijuana – which were unacceptable. The final version was an improvement over earlier alternatives, but it did not resolve concerns allowing me to feel the issue had been properly legislated. The primary intent of the legislation seemed to be more about generating tax revenue for special issues. 

Although sales have begun, the number of locations at which consumers are able to purchase cannabis products are limited for the next several months. That’s because the state began legalization by only approving recreational licenses for existing medical cannabis dispensaries. The state will begin to award licenses for new business owners on May 1, 2020.

As of January 2, three dozen medical dispensaries are approved to sell recreational cannabis. However, the new law allows local municipalities to deny the sale of recreational cannabis within their jurisdictions. To date, there are about 40 municipalities throughout the state – including some bigger cities such as Naperville – that took such action. So, depending on a specific community’s local ordinance, not all approved medical dispensaries will be allowed to sell cannabis for recreational use.

New laws ensure children receive proper healthcare
Ensuring children get the medical care they deserve is the goal of several new laws now on the books.

School-aged children who are registered as medical cannabis patients are allowed to take their medication at school under Senate Bill 455/PA 101-0370. This new law requires all schools, under the supervision of a school nurse or administrator, to administer medical cannabis to qualifying patients while on school premises or at a school-sponsored activity. The product must be stored with the school nurse at all times and only accessible to themselves or an administrator.

Another new law requires insurance companies to provide coverage for EpiPen injectors for children. EpiPen is the brand name of a device that delivers the drug epinephrine, which is a life-saving medication used when someone is experiencing a severe allergic reaction. House Bill 3435/PA 101-0281 requires companies offering health insurance policies in Illinois to pay for these devices as long as they are deemed “medically necessary” for the child.

And in an effort to prevent infant deaths caused by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), coroners will have to follow stricter requirements following an investigation. Often, infant deaths are attributed to SIDS, even when there are several unsafe factors present at the scene where the infant passed that could have contributed to the death. Finally, Senate Bill 1568/PA 101-0338 requires coroners to fill out a form listing any environmental factors pertinent to the infant’s death. It requires the Department of Public Health to use that information to publish materials concerning SIDS.

New laws address sexual misconduct
Laws addressing sexual misconduct are among those now in effect.

House Bill 2135/PA 101-0130 removes the statute of limitations for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The new law allows victims to press charges at any time after the alleged incident occurred. Previously, victims had to come forward within 10 years of the alleged offense.

Also, schools have new requirements to follow under Senate Bill 1798/PA 101-0418. The new law requires school districts to create, implement, and maintain an age-appropriate sexual harassment policy, post it on their websites, and include it in their student handbooks. Additionally, another new law – House Bill 3550/PA 101-0579 – requires a school’s sex education classes to include an age-appropriate discussion on the meaning of “consent.”

The full list of January 1 new laws
See the entire list of new laws for 2020 at my legislative website. Click on the Legislation tab at the top of the page.

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