IL lawmakers push to legalize recreational marijuana

IL lawmakers push to legalize recreational marijuana

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Lawmakers want to increase revenue in the state of Illinois by legalizing marijuana.

With Illinois not having a budget in two years, one supporter said legalization could lead to $350 to $700 million in additional revenue.

In 2016, Illinois state passed the decriminalization of marijuana, this bill would be legalizing the recreation of it.

On Monday, the Paul Simon Institute released a poll that shows a big portion of Illinois voters support marijuana decriminalization and legalization for recreational use.

One leader in the Carbondale community, Christopher E. Swims, Sr. Pastor of Hopewell Baptist Church, does not believe in the legalization of marijuana.

"It's just a temporary fix for a permanent situation," he said.

"If you're using marijuana as a coping mechanism. If you're using marijuana to help you wind down from a busy day, to help you deal with stress that you have going on in your life. OK…You may forget it about it while you are high, but once the high is over you then you are right back there," Swims explained.

However, Ryan Geist, a medical patient uses it for medicinal purposes and sees the legalization as an incentive to stay in Illinois after graduating from the University.

"If Illinois were to make it recreational, it would make it much more viable to stay here, a lot more economically sound it would create a lot more business. I know myself and a lot of other people I know would be all about getting involved in that business. There's lots of money to be had in the marijuana industry."

Representative Kelly Cassidy of Chicago explained the additional revenue will help go to schools and social services.

"Given the comparison of health outcomes between marijuana and legal products like alcohol and tobacco, there's no good reason to keep wasting money prosecuting distributors of marijuana instead of taxing and regulating it in the same way other states have done with great success," she said.

Cassidy explained the projection of revenue along with "huge boosts to job growth, tourism, and savings for law enforcement."

"Replacing it with a sensible, tested system of taxes and regulation would be an absolutely enormous boon to Illinois' economy," said Cassidy.

According to police in Marion, Illinois, with the legalization, enforcement will slightly change, however, they will still seek out illegal distributors.

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