Illinois lawmakers have been working to ascertain whether residents living in the state support the legalization of marijuana. In the 8 states where the plant has been legalized, tax revenue is generated that supports local and state government. Thousands of jobs have been created thanks to legal marijuana and millions of dollars have been flushed through the economy. The social risk appears to be minimal with teen use remaining the same or lower. Many studies suggest that the plant is much healthier than cigarettes and alcohol and safer than the latter when it comes to driving under the influence. On top of this, opioid related death and addiction is down, along with crime. For all these reasons and more, the question of whether or not to end prohibition is one that many lawmakers are having to evaluate at this time.
Non-Binding Referendum in Illinois
The most recent polls indicate that at least 60 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing the plant for recreational use and Illinois lawmakers in particular are looking to verify or at least check in with residents in the state to see what they really think. A non-binding referendum is asking residents if Illinois should legalize “the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older.” While the question and its results are non-binding, serving more as an official survey than anything else, it will be influential in directing how lawmakers choose to approach the subject from here.
The Largest County in Illinois Wants Legal Cannabis
Unsurprisingly, it appears that Illinois residents are in favor of legalizing the plan for recreational use by adults over the age of 21. In Cook County, which includes the city of Chicago, residents elected to back the legalization of the plant for personal use. Board President Toni Preckwinkle supported the referendum and now politicians have a better idea of what residents want.
Apprehensions of Legalization
While supporters of legalization have spoken about the tax revenue it would bring to local and state government, those who oppose legalizing the plant have pointed out the danger in legalizing a plant that is still banned on a federal level. Marijuana is still being regarded as a Schedule I drug, the highest risk category reserved for substances that have no medicinal value and are unsafe to be tested on humans. Given the fact that medical marijuana is legal in 29 states, the federal classification is considered problematic by most. Nonetheless, there are regulations in place that prevent the federal government from spending funds going after people who are abiding by state marijuana laws. With current Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a loud, long time prohibitionist, in place, the atmosphere has made many in the marijuana industry nervous.
Regardless, it appears that Illinois’ Cook County, including Chicago, supports legalization. As lawmakers continue to get a better grasp on what the people of Illinois want, appropriate actions can be taken and whoever is elected as the new governor can proceed, knowing fully well what residents of the state want.