State a step closer to legal pot use

Illinois Capitol News

ILLINOIS (WCIA) — With Governor Pritzker behind them, Democrats are moving full-steam ahead with a plan to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Lawmakers are already holding townhalls to explain details and take questions from voters, but law enforcement still isn’t on board.

The director of the Illinois Chiefs of Police says he has a real concern about road safety and illegal growing. Democrats have assured them they’re taking that into account.

It ultimately comes down to what people are saying and, overwhelmingly, it’s yes. With a new marijuana-friendly governor in office, the state is closer than ever to legalizing recreational pot.

“I know a lot of folks, older than I am, that thought it should have been legalized a long time ago,” said Springfield reisden Jeffery Lamb.

Last year, a Paul Simon Public Policy poll showed two-thirds of Illinois voters were on board. Now, with Bruce Rauner, out of the way, Democrats are gearing up to put votes on the board this spring and already launching community townhalls to answer voter concerns.

Lamb says he wants to go.

“I do have concerns on, is this going to be just corporations being able to do this or is this going to be legalized to the point where the common person could grow some themselves.”

It’s a valid question lawmakerse are addressing. A draft plan allows people to grow small amounts of marijuana in their homes. The idea is to help marginalized populations get a piece of the pot.

“I think we’ve been putting people in jail too easily,” said Lambn.

Illinois Chiefs of Police Director Ed Wojcicki says he understands the point, but says lax growing rules is just asking for trouble.

“It’s dangerous and we’re not trying to be alarmist. It’s just what’s happened in other states,” said Wojcicki.

He says Colorado law enforcement warned homegrown programs help cartels on the black market thrive. Wojcicki says killing this part of the plan is now their top priority.  

“If the bill has home-growns, it’ll make any type of regulation impossible,” said Wojcicki.

Under the current proposal, adults 21 and over will be able to grow up to five plants per house. Wojcicki says the idea is not only difficult to police, but he believes it will take revenue away from the state.

For those interested in hearing more, Senator Manar hosts his first townhall, Monday, 6:30 pm, at the Lincoln Public Library, in Springfield.

The draft also includes earmarking revenue from weed sales to law enforcement, public school campaigns and treatement centers.

Cities, employers and landlords will be able to ban use. Driving under the influence of pot will be illegal. Lawmakers are also working to expunge criminal records for those with low-level drug offenses. 

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