Illinois is about to make history as the first state to legalize recreational cannabis and allow commercial sales through the state legislature instead of via a voter initiative, pending the governor’s signature. But this historic piece of legislation almost died along the way over the increasingly contentious issue of homegrow.
Eventually, lawmakers compromised by allowing only medical cannabis patients to cultivate for themselves; recreational consumers can’t grow at all. This may sound like politics as usual, but it actually represents a worrying trend for those who believe that the right to grow your own cannabis is an essential part of a truly equitable legalization plan.
Currently, every state—except for Washington—that allows recreational cannabis dispensaries also allows homegrow. So far, none of these states have seriously considered rescinding the policy, and in Washington, there’s a growing push to add homegrow to the mix.
So what gives? Why has growing six plants at home become so controversial?
Illinois lawmakers actually passed an admirably equity-centered legalization bill, other than deciding that non-medical-patient adults can’t grow their own. And now lawmakers in New York and New Jersey appear poised to make the same mistake when considering their own legalization bills.