The legalization of marijuana has become a hot topic in recent years with 29 states legalizing medical and 8 states legalizing recreational marijuana. More and more states are following suit and politicians seem to be catching on that this is an important subject to talk about. No state seems to be more vocal about this at the moment than Illinois. Politicians have recognized that the majority of the state is in favor of ending prohibition and they have taken it upon themselves to take up the cause. The first major step in this direction occurred when the Senate approved a non-binding referendum question to appear in the ballots this November.
A Question in Place of a Poll
The question will appear as follows:
“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”
A recent poll conducted by the Southern Illinois University revealed that 66 percent of the state is in favor of legalizing the plant for recreational use. Due to the non-binding nature of the question that would appear on the ballot, it will essentially serve to act as a more official statewide poll that will reveal how Illinois residents feel about marijuana and ending prohibition in the state. The results will inform lawmakers on how to progress on the subject.
The Relevance of a Non-Binding Question
Chicago Democratic Senator Bill Cunningham is the person who sponsored the non-binding referendum question which was approved in the Senate 37-13. It will now go on to be voted on by the Democrat led House of Representatives. If approved by the House, it would need to be signed and approved by Governor Bruce Rauner. In the past, Rauner has stated that he would veto any bill for marijuana reform that crossed his desk. However, circumstances may be different due to the non-binding nature of the question. Should Illinois residents vote in favor of marijuana on the ballot, it would simply go to indicate their feelings about the plant, not bring it into law.
The Importance of Supporting Illinois Marijuana
Right now, politicians are bending over backwards in Illinois to let the public know that they support marijuana. Candidates running for chief executive have been publicly bickering through Twitter about who is more in favor of legalizing the plant. JB Pritzker has held a press conference in front of a dispensary and stated “our state should legalize marijuana.” He accused opposing candidate Chris Kennedy of not really supporting the end of prohibition. Kennedy replied saying “Illinois should legalize marijuana. We will immediately broaden access to medical marijuana. Don’t let a mailer, tweet or phone call convince you otherwise. This is where I stand.” State Senator Daniel Biss went so far as to make green campaign banners that merge his name with the plant, reading “Cannabiss.” He has stated that “we need to legalize, not criminalize cannabis. It’s time for us to radically reform our justice system so that it works for the rest of us.”
Regardless of Rauner’s perspective there is a lot of support for the plant. Many Illinois politicians are taking this as a reason to investigate further. If Rauner plans to stay in office beyond November, it may be worth taking note of this and letting the public have their say.