Illinois considers legalizing recreational marijuana

Legislators and the people they govern are all in agreement Illinois economy could use some help. That’s why legislators will discuss the proposal of two bills to legalize recreational marijuana in a joint hearing next week.

Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow and purchase limited amounts of marijuana. The state would regulate it. 

"If it got Colorado out of its budget problems, it will get Illinois out of its budget problems, too," says Jackson Mansfield of Murphysboro.

Rosie Naumovski co-owns a medical marijuana dispensary called Thrive. She says she believes that the benefits of legalizing marijuana will reach further than the consumer.

"I think this is a great opportunity to bring this underground economy to the forefront. It’s money that can go to business. It’s job creation. It’s economic development," says Naumovski.

 An economics professor at Southern Illinois University says legalizing marijuana may not be a bad thing. However, he says he doesn’t believe it’s the answer to all of the state’s financial problems.

"It’s not going to elevate tough decisions in other areas. Can it raise some revenue? Yes. Is it going to raise enough revenue to solve our problems? No,"  SIU economics professor Kevin Sylwester says.

If the bills are approved, the proposal for them says the state would enforce strict health and safety regulations, as well as marketing restrictions.

 The Senate and House Appropriations committees wild hold a joint hearing on the bills on Wednesday, April 19. 

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