Illinois Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Park Forest) has been appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to take on a new role as the state’s “cannabis czar”—Illinois’ cannabis regulation oversight officer.
Hutchinson was a key supporter in the push for adult-use cannabis legalization, according to Chicago’s PBS station, WTTW. Adult-use sales are set to launch in Illinois on Jan. 1, 2020, and the new law allows Illinois residents to possess up to 30 grams of flower, 5 grams of concentrates and 500 milligrams of THC in a cannabis-infused product.
Hutchinson was appointed to the Illinois Senate in 2009, and has advocated for not only cannabis legalization, but also social equity measures that would ensure those convicted of low-level cannabis offenses have their records expunged, as well as allow minority-owned businesses an opportunity to enter the market, WTTW reported.
“I’ve always said that equity should be the cornerstone of this new industry and I’m going to work every single day to ensure that those who have been disproportionately impacted by drug policies have the opportunity to start businesses and thrive here in Illinois,” Hutchinson said in a public statement upon her appointment to the oversight role.
In her new position, Hutchinson will be responsible for ensuring a smooth rollout of the state’s adult-use market, and will likely have to contend with the recent wave of vape-related illnesses, as WTTW pointed out. More than 100 of the 1,080 cases of vaping-related pulmonary illnesses were reported in Illinois, according to the news outlet.
“This is absolutely an issue of grave concern,” Hutchinson told the Chicago Tribune. “Anytime you look at something that’s happened this suddenly and this unexpectedly and where people can’t pin down what the source is, we have to be involved, we have to be at the forefront, we have to make sure public health is the No. 1 priority."