Illinois lawmakers push for recreational cannabis legalization

Changes to the legislation may be made next year based on these findings. (WICS)

It’s a conversation going on around the nation: Should states allow marijuana to be used recreationally?

In Illinois, it’s estimated that 750,000 people use cannabis.

“We have only about 24,000 people with medical cannabis cards,” Senator Heather Steans, D-Chicago, said.

Steans, Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, and travel writer and TV host Rick Steves voiced their support for the legalization of recreational cannabis use Tuesday at a press conference in Chicago.

They said legalizing cannabis in Illinois would bring in up to $699 million in new revenue.

“Going towards legalization simply has been shown to work in other states to improve the quality of the product, reduce the black market and then you can tax and regulate it appropriately,“ Steans said.

Police, on the other hand, disagree.

Ed Wojcicki, the executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said legalizing marijuana for recreational use could be dangerous.

The Leland Grove police chief said it would also make marijuana more accessible for kids and could lead to them using it at a young age.

Steans and Cassidy currently have legislation pending.

A release from the Senate Democrats said tax revenue from the proposed legislation would support the State Board of Education; treatment in education programs for responsible marijuana, alcohol and tobacco use; and the states General Revenue Fund.

A hearing was held on the legislation on Tuesday in Chicago.

It is part of a series of hearings on various aspects of legalizing cannabis use among adults.

Changes to the legislation may be made next year based on these findings.

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