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Two IL Lawmakers Push Legalizing Recreational Marijuana To Help Fill Budget Deficit

Jennifer Brdlik

Democratic State Representative Kelly Cassidy and Senator Heather Steans are pushing to legalize recreational marijuana.

Their measures would allow people 21 and older to possess up to 28 grams. It would also let facilities sell pot products.

Illinois currently allows medicinal uses of the drug for certain approved conditions.

Representative Cassidy says the state could rake in as much as $700 million a year from the sale of recreational marijuana; she says it’s critical to help chip away at Illinois’ massive budget deficit.

“This is a source of revenue that should not be overlooked as we look for ways to fill that gap," she said. "We’ve talked about taxing soda; we’ve talked about taxing retirement income; we’ve talked about taxing food and medicine.”

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed a law last year reducing penalties for possessing small amounts of the drug.

“It makes us more safe by allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on the things that really are driving violence in our neighborhood, that are really in need of law enforcement attention, instead of the low level cannabis stuff that does clog our system a fair bit," she said.

Cassidy says she wants to reach across the aisle for a longer conversation to address any concerns surrounding the proposal.

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