Recreational use in other states has increased revenues, created jobs
CHICAGO –As the movement to legalize recreational marijuana gains popularity in Illinois, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) heard testimony addressing best practices for regulation and taxation on Wednesday, April 19 from experts around the country. This hearing was the first in a series that will address the wide variety of concerns regarding their legislation that would allow Illinois residents to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and purchase marijuana products at licensed and regulated facilities.
Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton recently spoke at a government forum sponsored by Elmhurst College. His presentation was on the fiscal realities Illinois faces with its budget and why the state needs to get its backlog of unpaid bills under control.
The following slides accompanied his speech and walk through where the state of Illinois gets its funding, where that funding goes, the true pressures facing the state budget and the devastating trajectory of the backlog of unpaid bills.
The Senate President has been working on what’s been called a “Grand Bargain” to try to stabilize the state’s finances and enact key economic reforms.
Feedback from community groups, advocacy organizations, public safety officers, medical professionals and the public will be pivotal in shaping efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. At a press conference today, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) announced plans to hold the first subject matter hearing on the topic at 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Bilandic building.
“Rep. Cassidy and I are committed to gathering feedback about how legalizing recreational marijuana would affect the state from a large variety of interest groups,” Steans said. “We have received overwhelming support for this legislation but do not plan to move forward hastily. We want to ensure that there is ample time for organizations and individuals to present testimony and for us to adjust the legislation based on information presented in hearings.”
Barbara Brohl, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue will testify on how legalizing recreational marijuana has affected Colorado during the first hearing on this subject. Karmen Hanson, the program director of the Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, will also testify on what other states have done around legalizing marijuana.
“Senator Steans and I strongly believe that it’s time that Illinois had a new drug policy,” Cassidy said. “Legalizing recreational marijuana will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. We’re discussing all sorts of proposals to end the budget impasse, and we thought this should be part of the conversation as well.”
The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy organization devoted to ending marijuana prohibition, has estimated that legalizing recreational marijuana would generate between $350 million and $700 million in new revenue for the state of Illinois. Under the Steans-Cassidy proposals, the revenue would go to support the State Board of Education; treatment and education programs about marijuana, alcohol and tobacco; and the state’s General Revenue Fund.
Currently, six groups and organizations have come out in support of the legislation due to the fiscal impact it would have on the state and their belief that Illinois needs a new drug policy.
“It is time for Illinois to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Safer Illinois, a newly formed alliance of doctors, law enforcement, clergy and other organizations committed to updating marijuana legislation in Illinois. “Our current policy causes more harm to the individual and society than cannabis consumption, and a majority of Illinois voters are ready for a better approach. We believe these bills are exactly what Illinois needs.”
The two legislators will also seek feedback from residents at a town hall meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in their district.
Read more: Senate President presentation to Elmhurst College forum on March 31, 2017
CHICAGO – Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) seeks to create a new revenue source for the State of Illinois by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana. Senate Bill 316 legalizes the possession of up to 28 grams of marijuana and will allow facilities to sell marijuana products.
“Right now, all the money being spent on marijuana is going into the pockets of criminals and cartels,” Steans 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. Prohibition is a financial hole in the ground, and we should stop throwing taxpayer dollars into it.”
SPRINGFIELD – A law to prevent future governors from engaging in last-minute patronage takes effect today.
State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Deerfield) introduced the proposal after former Gov. Pat Quinn appointed a political operative to a $160,000-per-year state job at the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority a month after he lost his election last year.
Her plan affects any director appointed to a governor-controlled board or commission after the governor loses an election. They will be limited to 60 days in the position, allowing the newly elected governor to find the best person for the position. Morrison’s legislation extends beyond the ISFA to include similar government organizations.
“People are sick and tired of Illinois public officials abusing their positions,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t need this law, but Gov. Quinn made it clear that we do. Fortunately, now this loophole is closed forever.”
The Illinois Sports Finance Authority – a government entity – owns U.S. Cellular Field, home of the White Sox, and provided the majority of the financing for the renovation of the Bears’ Soldier Field. It receives subsidies from the state and the city of Chicago, income from the White Sox rental agreement, and revenue from a 2 percent tax on all hotel rentals in Chicago.
The legislation was originally House Bill 4078.