IL lawmakers introduce bill to legalize marijuana

Marijuana plant

Marijuana plant

New bills introduced by two Chicago Democrats would legalize recreational marijuana cultivation and usage in IL.

"Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents", Cassidy said.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, filed an amendment to House Bill 2353 that would make it legal for person older than 21 to buy and consume cannabis, which, under the legislation, would be regulated and taxed like alcohol.

This would be at a tax rate of 50-dollars per ounce at the wholesale level.

If approved, the plan would make IL the first state in the Midwest to allow the general public, including out-of-state visitors, to buy marijuana, though it would remain illegal to transport it across state lines. Out-of-state residents will be able to have up to 14 grams, or a half-ounce.

The group Marijuana Policy Project estimates sales could generate between $349 million and $699 million a year in the state.

Advocates have cited successes from Colorado's marijuana legalization, including the amount of revenue the proposal could generate for the state.

"It is clear that individuals across the nation are receptive to purchasing marijuana through a legal market", Sen.

In a release, Representative Cassidy states, "Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents", and that "Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for IL to develop its own exit strategy".

"Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it", she said.

The legislation would impose a special 23.65 percent sales tax on all marijuana and marijuana products at retail.

Gov. Bruce Rauner and House Speaker Michael Madigan reserved judgment, as they typically do with new bills. It would still be illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, and employers could still regulate its use in the workplace.

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