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New Recreational Marijuana Bill Introduced in Illinois

On Wednesday, lawmakers Senator Heather Steans and State Representative Kelly Cassidy, both introduced identical legislations to the General Assembly chambers an initiative to tax and legalize the sale of recreational marijuana for adults.

Illinois began its medical marijuana program in 2013. In 2016, Senator Steans introduced the legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. That legislation has since become Illinois Law.

The initiatives, Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353, would legalize the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana for adults and would allow facilities to sell marijuana products to adults over the age of 21. They would also tax those sales in a way similar to alcohol.

Like alcohol, this bill requests marijuana to be regulated in similar ways. Purchasers must provide proof of age and sales to anyone underage would be illegal. Also driving under the influence of marijuana would be a crime. As a consumer protection measure, marijuana sold in Illinois would be tested, labeled and regulated.

Steans also said the taxes collected from legal sales would help fill holes in the state budget.

“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,” she said.

Steans also pointed out that the state of Colorado has collected more than $140 million in 2016 from legal marijuana sales. Oregon has collected more than $60 million in new tax revenue from marijuana sales.

Recreational marijuana is legal in seven states and Washington D.C.

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