Although cannabis advocates predict that Illinois will be one of the next states to legalize recreational marijuana, the problem of an Illinois governor not likely to allow marijuana legalization puts a giant snag in the legislative grind. This will probably prevent pot reform from happening in 2018 in Illinois.
A Governor Against Ganja
The head honcho with the power to sign a bill into law or bury it is Governor Bruce Rauner. He recently told a Marion television station that pulling Illinois out of the pits of prohibition would be a “mistake.”
Instead of taking a leap toward a legitimate market, the governor says he would like to see officials conduct additional research to pinpoint any consequences that may come from passing a law of this magnitude.
“I do not support legalizing marijuana. I think that’s a mistake. You know there’s a massive, human experiment going on in Colorado, and California, other places. We should see how that’s impacted lives and addiction and hurt young people before we make any decision about it here,” Rauner told ABC-affiliate WSIL-TV. “I do not support legalizing marijuana.”
Up to this point, Governor Rauner has not directly said that he wouldn’t support a legalization bill. In fact, when confronted with the issue over the past few months, he has given every indication that he would consider a marijuana bill if it landed on his desk.
But Rauner has been adamant all along about wanting to see some data pertaining the potential “ramifications” connected to legalization.
Earlier this year, he said that he would not sign a recreational marijuana bill until he had the opportunity to review of a study of this kind.
Pot In The Prairie State?
We have watched Rauner tiptoe around the subject of marijuana reform for the past few years—especially in respect to the state’s medical marijuana pilot program. It seems he always wants to see studies before taking a chance on something that has proven successful all over the nation.
Sadly, no comprehensive study has made its way to the governor’s office.
And this lack of peer-reviewed gold is crippling the chances of a recreational pot bill being passed in the next legislative session. As a result, we have an Illinois governor not likely to allow marijuana legalization. But Rauner is on borrowed time, giving pot supporters hope for 2019.
We’ve seen this in other states.
In New Jersey, for example, the governor is dead set against marijuana for recreational use. But lawmakers have their fingers crossed that the next governor will lend their full support to the cause.
Right now, Illinois’ two Democratic gubernatorial candidates (J.B. Pritzker and State Senator Daniel Biss) have expressed enthusiasm for allowing pot to be sold in retail dispensaries in a manner similar to beer.
The Republican candidate, Chris Kennedy, has only come out to say that he would support marijuana decriminalization. But Rauner already made that happen in 2015.
State lawmakers are currently discussing a bill designed to open the doors to the cannabis industry. But state Senator Heather Steans has little faith the bill will go the distance in the coming months.
Although she is one of the primary supporters of the legislation, Steans believes 2019 is more realistic.
Final Hit: Illinois Governor Not Likely To Allow Marijuana Legalization
Some of the latest statistics indicate that bringing marijuana out of the black market might be a way for the state to reconcile its multibillion-dollar budget deficit. The number shows the state could enjoy up to $700 million in annual tax revenue. Yet, there are still lawmakers who worry the financial gain would not be worth the risk to public safety. Some law enforcement officers have the same apprehension.
There is also some concern right now regarding President Trump. Specifically, how his Department of Justice will eventually decide to handle legal weed.
Last week, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he still feels “marijuana is detrimental, and we should not give encouragement in any way to it.” He told reporters during a press briefing that the DOJ was looking “very hard right now” at the previous administration’s pot policies that have allowed states to experiment with legalization without much federal interference.
It has almost been a full year since Sessions assumed the role of attorney general. And, so far, nothing in the realm of a federal crackdown has transpired. Some state lawmakers truly worried about this threat earlier in the year, but most now seem to be more relaxed.
The latest polls show that 66 percent of Illinois residents are in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, they must recognize the reality of an Illinois governor not likely to allow marijuana legalization. So it looks as though it could be a couple of years before they get it.