On Wednesday, March 22, Illinois State Senator Heather Steans and Illinois State Representative Kelly Cassidy introduced identical legislation in their respective General assembly chambers to legalize and tax recreational marijuana for adults in the state of Illinois.
Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353, if passed, will legalize the possession of up to 28 grams, roughly one ounce, of marijuana and facilities to sell marijuana products to adults 21 and over and tax those sales similarly to the way alcohol is taxed.
The regulation of recreational marijuana would mirror alcohol in that it will require purchasers to show proof of age, sales to anyone underage will be illegal, driving under the influence will be a crime and all marijuana sold would be subject to testing, labeling and regulation as a consumer protection measure.
Steans explained that taxes collected from legal marijuana sales would aid in plugging holes in the state budget.
She stated, “Legalizing and taxing marijuana will not and should not solve all of our budget woes, but it should be a part of the conversation about resolving Illinois’ worsening budget problems. Every bit of new revenue will help to close the governor’s $5 billion budget gap,” per ABC7 Chicago.
Steans turned to the facts to state that Oregon collected more than $60 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales while Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, collected more than $140 million from legal marijuana sales in 2016 alone.
Steans introduced legislation to decriminalize possession of up to ten grams of marijuana in 2016, which has since become a law.
Illinois began its medical marijuana pilot program in 2013, while the sale and recreational use of marijuana is currently legal in seven states and Washington, D.C.