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IL lawmakers introduce bill to legalize marijuana

24 March 2017

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

IL already allows patients with certain conditions to use medical marijuana following a successful pilot program the state launched in 2013, and Steans managed to get legislation passed in 2016 that decriminalized possession of up to 10 grams of pot.

Sen. Heather Steans, sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, notes that Oregon collected more than $60 million in new revenue from a tax on marijuana - more than six times what the Oregon Liquor Control Commission expected for the 2015-2017 budget period - and Colorado collected more than $140 million from taxes on legal weed sales. "Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for IL to develop its own exit strategy".

For more than a year, IL has had a pilot program allowing the sale of marijuana to patients with any of about 40 debilitating diseases, such as cancer or AIDS.

"Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer", she said.

Senate Bill 316 would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana and will allow facilities to sell marijuana products.

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Under the proposed new law, marijuana would be restricted under the law in much the same as is alcohol under state law. It would apply restrictions to its manufacture, marketing, labeling and testing. This special sales tax would be in addition to, not in replacement of, the regular state sales tax of 6.35 percent, and would amount to a combined effective sales tax at retail of 30 percent.

"People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol", said Chris Lindsey, the group's senior legislative counsel.

Advocates for legalization say kids are already getting marijuana illegally, but legalization would allow it to be more closely regulated.

The governor's office is reviewing the bills.

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IL lawmakers introduce bill to legalize marijuana