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Illinois Lawmakers Schedule Recreational Marijuana Legalization Hearings

Illinois Marijuana Laws

Illinois’ Senate and House Appropriations Committees will hear the argument to legalize adult use of marijuana in Illinois. The hearing is scheduled for April 19 for SB 316 and HB 2353 and will be held at the Michael A. Bilandic Building.

A news conference was held in the James R. Thompson Center to announce the details of the hearing, according to press release by SaferIllinois.org. This marks the official launch of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois. The group supports ending marijuana prohibition and both pending bills.

Senate Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans said, “Illinois’ marijuana policy is like an old car that the General Assembly has kept on the road these past few years by adding a new part and patching up some old ones. The time has come to start discussing our options for replacing it with a newer model – something more modern and cost-effective with improved safety features.”

Reverend Alexander Sharp said, “Marijuana prohibition poses more potential harm to citizens and our community than marijuana itself. It is forcing marijuana into a dangerous underground market where consumers may encounter violence, contaminated products, and other illegal drugs. Ending prohibition and regulating marijuana for adult use would make Illinois safer.”

Members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois include community leaders, members of the ACLU of Illinois and CNDP. Civilians are also part of this coalition alongside Law Enforcement Action Partnership, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Illinois NORML and Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

Chris Lindsey, legislative counsel for MPP, said, “Most Americans recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, and a lot of lawmakers are just starting to come to grips with that fact. Issuing marijuana possession citations to thousands of adults is not really making anyone safer. But what if law enforcement officials used all that time to address serious crimes instead? It could really make a difference.”

Representative Kelly Cassidy said, “We have a great opportunity to examine how these laws are working in other states and develop a system that will work best for Illinois. There has been a lot of discussion about the tax revenue and other potential economic benefits. We also need to consider the potential public health and safety benefits of removing marijuana from the criminal market and actually controlling production and sales.”