Lawmakers from both the Senate and House held the fourth in a series of joint committee hearings to discuss the possibility of legalizing and taxing cannabis for recreational use in Illinois.
Members of the Senate Appropriations I and Public Health Committees met in Chicago with the House Appropriations – Public Safety, Health & Healthcare Disparities, and Mental Health Committees to discuss the topic.
Lawmakers heard from a number of elected officials and organizations who spoke for and against the idea. Testimony in support of the idea included the Cook County Board President and the president of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, while testimony against the plan included a doctor from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health along with a former Drug Enforcement Administration administrator.
Supporters argued that legalization could generate $300 million to $700 million annually in tax revenue for the state while helping to eliminate the black market for marijuana and the crime associated with the illicit trade.
Opponents offered their own arguments which pointed to the potential for increasing drug use among young people and the possibility of marijuana serving as a gateway to more addictive and dangerous drugs.
The joint hearing focused specifically on the language currently contained in Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353, which would likely be amended before passage and could potentially be voted on as soon as the spring legislative session. Many supporters however believe that concrete action on the topic is unlikely until 2019.