In Illinois, the medical marijuana dispensaries haven’t even opened yet, but there is already talk of recreational marijuana being legalised. Kathie Kane-Willis, the director of the Consortium on Drug Policy in Illinois, predicts that recreational pot may be legalized in as little as 3-7 years.
Both Washington State and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in 2012, over a decade after introducing medicinal marijuana, but Kane-Willis believes that Illinois’s economic hardships may expedite the process. The burgeoning industry could make the state a bonus of $125 million a year if they grew and sold weed on the market. This money could then go on to pay for Medicaid, fund pensions and even fix the education system. Legislators are already working on the new law, to see if it could be a possibility in the future.
Ali Nagib from NORML says that the bill takes things one step further, stating that possessing a small amount of marijuana is completely legal whereas large amounts could be questionable.
Nagib also believes that the public opinion regarding marijuana has changed, and this could also help to speed up the legalisation in Illinois. In fact, 51% of Americans think that the drug should be legalised. In the year 2004, that number was only at 34%.
A medical marijuana store in Evanston will soon be opening its doors, a mere block away from where Kate Mahoney runs her drug-abuse program. Advocates have said that legalising pot will not only bring in millions in tax revenues, but recreational marijuana could also help limit drug arrests.