By Derrick Stanley
Illinois lawmakers say that legal recreational marijuana will be part of the state's future; it's a question of when, not if. That is the message sent this morning from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate cannabis, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.
State Representative Kelly Cassidy and state Senator Heather Steans, both Democrats from Chicago, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.
They say prohibition of marijuana has not worked and it's time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which creates violent crime.
Cassidy cited surveys that show that 66 percent of the Illinois population support cannabis legalization.
The lawmakers believe that adults should be allowed to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of marijuana, and that legalization would create millions of dollars in tax revenue.
The lawmakers were joined by representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups also make up part of the coalition