Published: Fri, March 24, 2017
Health Care | By Gwendolyn Kim

IL lawmakers propose legalizing recreational marijuana

IL lawmakers propose legalizing recreational marijuana

Out-of-state visitors would be allowed to purchase marijuana under this bill, but would not be permitted to take it across state lines.

Lawmakers are proposing to legalize recreational marijuana in IL but say the legislation probably won't come up for a vote until next year.

The state would license and regulate businesses growing, processing, testing and selling marijuana to adults.

The proposal aims to restrict sales to adults 21 and older, and tax the sales at $50 per ounce wholesale and at the state's 6.25 percent sales tax at retail.

Using Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, as a gauge, the Marijuana Policy Project projected IL could generate between $349 million and $699 per year on marijuana if prohibition were lifted and the drug were allowed to be sold and taxed.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan reserved judgment, as they typically do with new bills.

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Sen. Steans also wants to explore the issue of marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain management.

State Representative Kelly Casidy, who introduced the house legislation, says regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.

"The tax revenue comes right away", Pacula said.

For more than a year, IL has had a pilot program allowing the sale of marijuana to patients with any of about 40 debilitating diseases, such as cancer or AIDS.

Under the proposed new law, marijuana would be restricted under the law in much the same as is alcohol under state law.

Legalizing marijuana could be just the moneymaker the state needs, the lawmakers say: Eight states have now enacted laws regulating and taxing marijuana for adult use, and the budget benefits have been apparent in some of those parts of the country. She said the law would redirect that money into legitimate, taxpaying businesses and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue instead of funding gangs. "It's a realistic approach".

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