The results of an election in Cook County yesterday show that Illinois voters support marijuana legalization. The ballot asked the electorate to decide if recreational cannabis should be legalized in the state. Tallies released this morning, with 98 percent of ballots counted, indicate that voters overwhelmingly said “yes” by a two-thirds margin.
County commissioners voted unanimously to put the question on the ballot in December of last year.
Cook County is the most populous one in Illinois and home to the city of Chicago. More people live in Cook County than in 27 states in the union.
The ballot question specifically mentioned the supply chain necessary to support a legal pot market. The text of the ballot proposition is as follows:
“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”
Despite the positive vote, recreational pot isn’t legal in Illinois just yet. The measure voters passed is a non-binding resolution used to gauge public opinion.
The state legislature legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2013, and the law went into effect the following year.
Voters Share Their Views
Voters on both sides of the question have strongly held views. Leslie Flavian of Skokie told the Chicago Tribune that she voted in favor of the referendum.
“The amount of police manpower that goes into arresting people for marijuana use is a big problem,” she said.
“The number of people who have been in our jails for marijuana use seems ridiculous. There are a lot of other crimes to pursue than for smoking marijuana.”
But other voters would prefer to maintain the status quo. Bridget Marron, a resident of Morton Grove, voted against the referendum.
“I would support this only if it were prescribed by a doctor and not for recreational use,” she said. “I think it’s dangerous to just say OK under any circumstance.”
It’s All About The Benjamins
Supporters of legal pot in Illinois point to other states to support their case. They also want to cash in on the tax revenues a legal marijuana market can generate.
Colorado voters approved a cannabis legalization referendum in 2012 and legal sales began two years later. Since that time, the state has collected more than $700 million in taxes, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue.
But lawmakers need to avoid being too greedy. Some legislators in California are already calling for pot taxes to be lowered, less than four months into that state’s legal marijuana economy.
They argue that levies are so high that many marijuana buyers are sticking with the Golden State’s entrenched black market.
Final Hit: Illinois Voters Support Marijuana Legalization
State lawmakers could now take on the job of legalizing weed in Illinois. But only the state of Vermont has approved recreational marijuana by an action of the state legislature.
Voters took the lead in the other states that have legal weed for adult use.
Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Nevada, Oregon, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, and California all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures passed by voters.