The state flag of Illinois flying on a clear day.

Matt Turner

Adult-Use Bills Introduced in Illinois

Democratic lawmakers in Illinois have introduced legislation to legalize adult cannabis use, which would set up a taxed and regulated system. The measure (SB.316) is sponsored in the Senate by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans and in the House by Rep. Kelly Cassidy.

In a press release, Cassidy indicated that wholesale sales would be taxed $50 per-ounce under the proposal and there would be a 6.25 percent sales tax levied at the point of sale. The Marijuana Policy Project estimates that the revenues derived from the legal cannabis industry could generate between $349 million and $699 million annually for the state.

“Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Cassidy said in a statement. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.”

Steans called cannabis prohibition “a financial hole in the ground” that the state “should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into.”

“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” she said. “In a regulated system, the money would go into the cash registers of licensed, taxpaying businesses. It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new revenue for our state.”

The House version has been assigned to the Appropriations-Public Safety Committee, which Cassidy chairs. It must pass through that committee before moving to the floor for a full vote.

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