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You might get to vote on whether to legalize marijuana. Here's why it won't count.

Uniting States of Marijuana: the country’s evolving laws on cannabis

Several states have adopted new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the latter. Is this the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition?
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Several states have adopted new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the latter. Is this the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition?

The Illinois Senate on Thursday backed a measure to put an advisory referendum on November's ballot on whether the state should legalize marijuana for recreational use for people 21 and older.

Senators voted 37-13 to put a nonbinding question on the November ballot.

Chicago Democratic Sen. Bill Cunningham, the bill's sponsor, said the referendum question will act as a statewide opinion poll.

Illinois has a medical marijuana program and has decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. People can receive fines of $100 or $200 if caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana, instead of being sent to jail.

Illinois legislators late last year had hearings on the legalization of recreational marijuana and whether the state should join the seven states and District of Columbia that have approved recreational use of the substance.

The proposal now goes to the House for a vote. To make it to the ballot, it needs Gov. Bruce Rauner's signature. The governor has said he is opposed to legalizing marijuana, but has not weighed in on whether there should be an advisory referendum.

"If legislators want to put a referendum on the ballot, they should put term limits on the ballot," said Rauner Press Secretary Rachel Bold in a statement. "We know the people of Illinois want term limits – let’s give them a chance to vote on the issue."

Several states have adopted new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the latter. Is this the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition?

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

How they voted

  • State Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville – Did not vote

  • State Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton – Yes

  • State Sen. Kyle McCarter, R- Lebanon – No

  • State Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo – No

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