Officials in Illinois have proposed to fully legalize marijuana. They believe it will bring in annual profits of more than half a million dollars. This may also help make the state a trailblazer in the Midwest when it comes to cannabis policies.
Last week, two Democrats who represent the Chicago metropolitan area introduced the proposal. They believe that legalizing marijuana in Illinois will help tackle the state’s deficit, which is now a multi-billion dollar one. It would allow anyone over the age of 21 to buy, grow and posses up to one ounce of cannabis.
The legislation, as proposed, would place a marijuana wholesale tax of $50-per-ounce on cannabis purchases. This, in turn, could generate an estimated revenue of $350 to $700 million annually, reports Fox News.
According to the bill’s authors, Democratic Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, 50% of all revenue generated from legalized marijuana sales in Illinois would go directly to the state’s general fund. The other 50% would be distributed to various education and public health initiatives.
“We’re talking about all sorts of ways of raising revenue,” Cassidy told Fox News. “We might as well be talking about this, too.”
The proposal is likely to face a major uphill battle to secure passage, but Cassidy, who previously sponsored 2014 legislation legalizing medical marijuana, is hopeful it will gain support on fiscal grounds. The lawmakers will not attempt to push the bill through in the current sessions, instead opting to host discussion forums to bolster support and bring attention to the issue, reports Peoria Public Radio.
Illinois would become the first state in the Midwest to legalize marijuana recreationally is the legislation succeeds.
Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use. Voters in Maine, Nevada, California and Massachusetts all approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use on Election Day. Nearly 20 percent of Americans now have access to legal pot.