State Legislators Believe It Is A Solution To Budgets Woes
The state of Illinois has gone more almost two full year without a proper budget in place, bills aren't getting paid, programs are getting cut, and the government is no closer to solving the problem. Now some legislators are looking to other states for ideas to ease the longstanding budget woes, namely Colorado and Washington. Two state legislators from the Edgewater neighborhood in Chicago are spearheading an effort to legalize marijuana in the state, and they will have a meeting on this later in the week.
There are currently a pair of bills now pending in the General Assembly authored by Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy that would create a system for regulating and taxing marijuana sales. They hope that doing so can bring in at least $350 million a year for the state.
Under the proposed law, Illinois residents would be allowed to possess up to 28 grams and five plants, while nonresidents would be limited to 14 grams. The bill would also impose a $50 per ounce tax on pot at the wholesale level, while sales to the public would be subject to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Any business producing marijuana for sale would be bound by labeling requirements and marketing restrictions.
The proceeds from taxing weed would go to funding education as well as funding programs and treatment centers design to educate people about the dangers of abusing alcohol, marijuana and tobacco.
While Illinois governor Bruce Rauner has not fully dismissed the idea of legalization, he does seem to generally oppose the idea. "I think recreational marijuana is a very, very difficult subject," Rauner said Tuesday during an appearance in Rock Island, saying Illinois should look at the impact that legalizing marijuana has had on the states that have already decriminalized the drug.
Nationally, polls show that 59% of people are in favor of legalization, but the numbers vary greatly among specific groups. Among Republicans, 61% oppose the idea, while 49% of Hispanics polled were opposed. Among millennials (ages 18-34) 74% are in favor of legalization.
The first hearing on the topic is at noon April 19 in the Michael A. Bilandic Building, 160 N. Lasalle St.