The Chicago, Illinois city skyline photographed from distance.

Michael Curi

Illinois Gov.-Elect Wants to Legalize Before Michigan

Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker doubled down on adult-use cannabis legalization this week, telling reporters he thinks Illinois could be the first Midwestern state to establish a taxed-and-regulated marketplace, NPR Illinois reports.

Pritzker’s progressive cannabis views have raised the hopes of Illinois advocates but his latest sentiment — that the state should launch its regulated marketplace before Michigan, which legalized cannabis in the midterms via a voter referendum — goes far beyond the zeal expressed by most other pro-cannabis politicians.

“There’s an opportunity for us to be the first state in the Midwest to make it available, and so I think the legislature should get at it.” — Illinois Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker, via NPR Illinois

While Michigan lawmakers are looking at ways to restrict the state’s voter-approved legalization initiative, Pritzker says Illinois should press the issue in the early 2019 legislative session and launch its market as quickly as possible.

“The good news about being eighth or ninth to get this done is we can look at what works and put it in place in Illinois,” Pritzker said.

“I suspect it’s a done deal. People see it as a new source of revenue,” cannabis consultant and lobbyist Pat Brady told The Chicago Tribune in November. “The true battle will be over who gets their cut of it taxwise.”

10 states plus the District of Columbia have now ended cannabis prohibition, but only one state so far — Vermont, early in 2018 — has successfully done so via the legislature.

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