Illinois taking steps to legalize recreational marijuana

Opposing opinions in the medical marijuana community

Steps toward legalizing Recreational Marijuana (Source: KFVS)

ILLINOIS (KFVS) - Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and state lawmakers are taking steps to move forward on legislation for legalizing recreational marijuana.

On Saturday May 4, Pritzker and stakeholder announced the framework to legalize adult use cannabis on January 1, 2020.

According to the Governors office, this proposed plan lays out the governor’s key priorities: legalizing the use of cannabis for adults aged 21 and older, promoting equity in ownership and participation in this emerging sector, advancing justice by expunging the records of people with minor cannabis convictions, and reinvesting funding in communities that have suffered the most from discriminatory drug policies.

Michael Craft of Marion, IL uses medicinal marijuana after his bad car accident where he broke his back. Narcotics did not help, and Craft said he was getting addicted so his doctor recommended the medical cannabis. Craft now supports the state taking the next steps in legalizing the recreational use of the drug.

“Economically, the state could use a boost. that would definitely be a huge boost for us, not only that, there would probably be a whole lot people move back to Illinois who have moved out,” he said.

The governor wants to allocate the funds collected from the recreational marijuana for the following:

o 35% will be transferred to the General Revenue Fund,

o 25% will be transferred to the Restoring Our Communities Fund for community reinvestment,

o 20% will be transferred to a fund that will support mental health and substance abuse services at local health departments,

o 10% will be transferred to the Budget Stabilization Fund to pay the backlog of unpaid bills,

o 8% will be transferred to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board to create a law enforcement grant program, and

o 2% will be transferred to the Drug Treatment Fund to fund public education and awareness.

CEO of Medicinal Cannabis Outreach Eric Sweatt said he’s against it. Even though Sweatt thinks legalizing recreational marijuana could benefit his business, he worries about the social impact.

“I’m just against the recreational just because of the fact of what it’s going to do to these local communities. He’s needs to really listen to these other states and what’s happened to them and think about it twice and maybe just go a little slower,” Sweatt said.

However, John Jackson with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute said, “I don’t think it’s been rushed at all, it’s a very viable option for three or four years now.”

The budget is more than $3 billion dollars out of balance.

“There will be opponents to every single proposal, that’s how we got into the financial mess. [Pritzker] got to find new sources of revenue,” Jackson said,

According to a recent poll from the Policy Institute, 66 percent of Illinoisans favor legalizing marijuana and 57 percent of downstate voters said they support the legalization.

The next phase is the legislative debate and feedback from broader groups of lawmakers and other stakeholders.

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