Illinois marijuana legalization push gets huge boost with Pritzker win

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WLS) -- Supporters of legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois are hopeful because Governor-Elect JB Pritzker shows interest in making that happen.

But some tough questions remain over how it would be taxed and where the revenue would go.

Pritzker supported the legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois

Chicago lawmaker Kelly Cassidy is the co-sponsor of a cannabis bill she hopes will pass by next spring.

"Now the devil is in the details, we are all rowing in the same direction now and that is great, that's really what we need," she said.

The tough details that need to be worked out are the rate at which marijuana will be taxed and how the estimated $300-$750 million in revenue it will generate will be divided up. Money that many, but not all, welcome in a broke state.

"To me that is not the way we should deal with problems, to rely upon weed to be the guiding light to fix all the problems we are experiencing in Springfield," said State Rep. Jim Durkin, House Republican Leader.

Durkin is against legalization. He said the state should concentrate on pension reform and curbing spending to solve its financial woes. But Cassidy agrees revenue generated from legalization should not be viewed as a cash cow or a magic bullet. She said it's time for recreational users to stop supporting the cartels and street gangs who are profiting from illegal pot.

"Fundamentally, prohibition doesn't work, it's that simple," Cassidy said.

Cassidy said some of the revenue will go toward law enforcement and underfunded treatment programs. Durkin urged lawmakers not to rush the bill through.

"I believe it's premature, we are moving too fast. I believe there are societal concerns we must put into perspective when we think about this," he said.

Cassidy and her co-sponsors have spent the last two years studying the issue and holding hearings.
She said Illinois has the benefit of learning what works and what doesn't in other states where recreational use is legal.

So far, ten states have legalized recreational marijuana and 33 states, including Illinois, have legalized medical marijuana.
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