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Illinois Lawmakers Introduce Bill That Would Legalize Marijuana in the State

Illinois Cannabis Legalization

Illinois lawmakers have introduced legislation today that would legalize recreational marijuana by establishing a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use.

Senate bill, SB 316, and the House version, HB 2353, would make it legal for adults 21 and older in Illinois to possess, cultivate, and purchase marijuana, reports the MPP. The state would license and regulate businesses that would be responsible for cultivating, processing, testing, and selling marijuana to adults. Strict health and safety regulations would be enacted, such as testing and labeling requirements.

“Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Rep. Kelly Cassidy said. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.”

The MPP estimates regulated marijuana sales in Illinois could generate up to $699 million per year in new revenue for the state.

“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”

Eight states have already enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana use for adults. A recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 59% of U.S. voters believe marijuana should be legalized. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center and Gallup last October found support at 57% and 60%, respectively.

“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the MPP. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”