Will Illinois Be The Next State To Legalize Recreational Marijuana?

Jul 31, 2017

Efforts to make Illinois to be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana are taking shape in Springfield.

The General Assembly decriminalized possession of small amounts of it last year. However, that measure was vetoed by Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, but his veto was overridden. Rauner also hasn't allowed many proposed changes or expansions to the state's pilot medical cannabis program.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, introduced a measure earlier this year that would allow individuals 21 and older to possess, grow and purchase limited amounts of the marijuana. She says it would garner at least $350 million in tax revenue annually.

Steans says she'd want the gains to go toward regulatory oversight, plus "substance abuse treatment and prevention ... certainly a public awareness campaign against illegal drug use," she said. "Finally, I think education makes a lot of sense."

David Smith, director of the conservative Illinois Family Institute, says recreational marijuana use is a threat to public health and safety.

"We really don't think it's a good idea to have or encourage a more inebriated society," he said. "We don't need more inebriated, intoxicated citizens on the street."

Steans says she'll be gathering insight to re-draft the measure and introduce it again in the year ahead.