An Illinois Senate committee and a House committee held a hearing Wednesday on a proposal to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
Witnesses called during the hearing included Barbara Brohl, the director of the Colorado Department of Revenue, who talked about how recreational marijuana is regulated there. Brohl said roughly $43 million from marijuana taxation went to school funding in Colorado during the most recent fiscal year.
State lawmakers are considering a proposal that could make Illinois the first state in the Midwest and the ninth nationally to legalize recreational pot.
Two Chicago Democrats recently introduced legislation that would legalize small amounts of marijuana for adults and license businesses to sell cannabis products. They argue it would help solve the state’s budget crisis.
Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy say the move could raise between $350 to $700 million in tax revenue, create new jobs and bolster tourism.
At the hearing Wednesday, Steans said she doesn’t expect a vote on the proposal during the current legislative session.
The hearing Wednesday was a joint hearing of a Senate Appropriations committee and a House Appropriations committee. The Senate committee has no metro-east members. The House committee has two members from the metro-east: Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, who serves as the committee’s vice chairman, and Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton.
The News-Democrat recently surveyed state representatives and senators from the metro-east, asking where they stand on the issue. Only three of them provided replies.
▪ Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo: “I am still undecided on the issue. I am carefully considering both sides of the argument.”
▪ Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon: “Medical marijuana, owned by lobbyists, became decriminalization last year, and now it’s legalizing pot for recreation under the guise of a budget solution. I will not lead Illinois on this radical path to exchange good sense and morality for pain, suffering and corruption.”
▪ Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton: “Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is not something we should pursue at this time. The medical marijuana program is still unfolding and we need to fine-tune it before we can take the next step. I also don’t think this is where our time and energy needs to be spent right now. We need to be negotiating with the governor to get a balanced budget.”
▪ Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville: No response.
▪ Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea: No response.
▪ Rep. Katie Stuart, D-Edwardsville: No response.
▪ Rep. LaToya Greenwood, D-East St. Louis: No response.
▪ Rep. Charlie Meier, R-Okawville: No response.
▪ Rep. Jerry Costello II, D-Smithton: No response.
▪ Rep. Dan Beiser, D-Alton: No response.