By Dalton Rosario
As proudly promoted by J.B. Pritzker (D), governor-elect in Illinois, “We have an opportunity here in Illinois to bring $700 million in revenue to the state. To create jobs across the state production facilities, dispensaries and to reserve some of the licenses for people who have been most put upon and ill affected by the war on drugs.” This news comes well received following midterm elections and ballot results which welcomed state legislative initiatives, positioning the midwest as the next major frontier for open market policies favoring pro-cannabis legalization. Taking assurance of this policy shift in Illinois a step further, Pritzker also declared plans to vacate arrest records for individuals currently facing jail-time for cannabis related charges, deeming it unjust given its legal status.
A study by the University of Illinois’ Economic Policy Institute and Project for Middle Class Renewal compared statistics from Colorado’s usage and taxation of cannabis to determine that by year 2020, Illinois’ state economy will have earned over $500 million in taxable revenues from cannabis by implementing 24,000 jobs in the legal cannabis market; resulting in a decrease of law enforcement costs by $18 million per year. This analysis comes after Illinois State Senator Heather Steans and Illinois House of Representatives member Kelly Cassidy introduced Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353 last March to legalize the sale of adult cannabis use and create the necessary regulatory and taxation framework to do so - allowing Illinois residents over the age of 21 to possess up to 28 grams of cannabis and to own 5 cannabis plants, while non-residents may possess up to 14 grams of cannabis.
Illinois is leading the midwest as a prime example for states seeking to end cannabis prohibition in a manner which reflects the best practices from the likes of Washington, Colorado and California. With the proper infrastructure set in place, it is simply a matter of catching federal legislation up to pace with the next natural progression for legalization of recreational and medicinal cannabis nationwide.