Illinois could be the latest state to legalize medical marijuana. In past attempts, the bill’s passage was approved in the Illinois Senate, only to be stymied upon its arrival in the House. However, State Representative Lou Lang – longtime advocate for legalization – has supposedly garnered enough votes to get both Senate and House approval, potentially making medical marijuana a reality in Illinois.
A vote on the measure was scheduled for this past week, before Lang decided to delay the vote in order to assure passage. As Lang was quoted in the Chicago Tribune, there are “a whole bunch of people who are wavering.” Nevertheless, the Democratic representative has projected confidence in the bill this go-around.
Many have projected Illinois to become the latest state to legalize marijuana. In June, Chicago passed an ordinance allowing officers to issue tickets to individuals in possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana, ranging from $250 to $500. The ordinance was backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel because it ensured officers would be able to remain on patrol, in order to combat the city’s surging murder rate.
Although far away from marijuana being legalized for recreational use, proponents of full legalization hope that Lang’s bill could be a springboard towards that goal. The results, they argue, would reduce gang activity and black market sales of the drug. Proponents also argue that not only would legalization detach gangs from their main source of income, but it would also lead to an increase in revenue for a state with the fifth highest debt in the country.
Opponents, however, argue that legalizing what is considered a gateway drug would lead to an increase in violence and crime, proportionate to both the amount of new users and the stronger caliber of drugs consumed. Opponents also believe that legalization would serve as a slippery slope for the moral fiber of the country.
Currently, Washington and Colorado are the only states to approve legalization of marijuana for recreational use. In addition to the District of Columbia, Illinois would become the nineteenth state to legalize medicinal marijuana. The vote is scheduled to take place during the week of December 3.