Is Recreational Marijuana Coming to Illinois?Published: Jun 30, 2017, by in Drug Crimes, Legal Blog
The possession and use of cannabis for recreational purposes is legal in eight American states, and it is legal for medical purposes in 30. Even in states such as Illinois, where the plant remains illegal, both municipalities and now the state legislature have passed decriminalization measures – meaning that possession is treated as a civil offense, like a traffic ticket, instead of a criminal matter.
Across the country, momentum is clearly building in favor of off full legalization. This year, 74 percent of respondents in a Southern University of Illinois poll stated that they are in favor of marijuana decriminalization. And 66 percent of respondents approved of marijuana being regulated and sold like alcohol. The problem is, marijuana remains illegal at the Federal level, and within each state, conservatives and powerful lobbies generally oppose legalization.
If you are charged with a marijuana crime, you need an experienced Chicago marijuana lawyer by your side. We will evaluate your situation and help you present the best defense possible. Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706.
Illinois Lawmakers Slowly Push Towards Recreational Marijuana Legalization
Emboldened by last year’s statewide decriminalization measure, two Illinois lawmakers, state senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), have introduced two bills that would legalize marijuana possession for adults over 21 years of age.
The likelihood of either bill turning into law in the near future is low, and Cassidy and Steans know it. They will not be putting their bills to vote this session. Instead, they are attempting to raise awareness of the potential benefits of legalization by hosting public hearings, the first of which took place in Chicago in April.
Their goal is to sway the public’s opinion, which may in turn impact legalization opponents in government. Governor Rauner recently vetoed two bills that would have expanded the state’s medical marijuana program. Further, many state lawmakers view supporting marijuana legalization as a political liability even if they privately admit that they don’t think marijuana is a dangerous substance or a serious public health issue.
At a time when the state government is strapped for cash, the legalization of recreational marijuana could potentially get a boost. States such as Colorado have improved their finances through the taxation of marijuana sales, and the prospect of Illinois doing the same may be attractive to politicians on both side of the aisle. According to a report from the Marijuana Policy Project, an excise tax and sales tax on recreational cannabis could raise $349 million to $699 million annually.
Federal Policy on Recreational Marijuana Remains Unclear
President Trump has at various times voiced both his support for and disagreement with state-level marijuana legalization measures. His stance on the issue is unclear, but that of his Attorney General is not. In contrast with the Obama administration, Jeff Sessions has vowed to enforce federal drug laws to the fullest extent against recreational marijuana users, producers, and distributors. With that goal in mind, he has tasked the Justice Department to review how it charges and sentences marijuana offenses.
A recent effort to have the FDA reschedule marijuana has failed. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, meaning that it is considered among the most dangerous drugs such as heroin. Despite the obvious lack of scientific evidence to support this scheduling, the FDA has bent to pressure from the alcohol and pharmaceutical industry lobbies and rejected the proposal to reschedule cannabis.
But a nationwide crackdown on marijuana could be an unwise move for an already unpopular administration. Polls suggest that almost 60 percent of Americans approve of cannabis legalization – twice the amount as a decade ago. Basically, it’s anyone’s guess as to how federal marijuana policy will evolve in coming months.
A Chicago Marijuana Attorney Can Help You
At O’Meara Law, we are dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused as they face the criminal justice system. From traffic offenses to felony drug cases, no case is too big or too small for us. As a former prosecutor, attorney Michael O’Meara is well positioned to find the weaknesses in the state’s case against you.
If you need an effective legal advocate by your side, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential case consultation.