SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Illinois Democratic candidates for governor say it’s time for the state to legalize adult-use cannabis, while Republican candidates oppose the idea.
Nine states and Washington, D.C, have already legalized recreational marijuana. Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor say it’s time the state follow suit, arguing the move would bring in needed revenue and would be a major step toward criminal justice reform.
Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner
The candidates in the March 20 primary are Sen. Daniel Biss, businessman Chris Kennedy, billionaire J.B. Pritzker, educator Bob Daiber, activist Tio Hardiman and physician Robert Marshall.
On the other side, the two GOP primary candidates have opposed legalization and raised questions on the future of Illinois’ medical marijuana pilot program, which is set to expire in 2020.
Gov. Bruce Rauner implemented the pilot program in 2015, but he has recently fought in court attempts to expand the list of qualifying conditions. He is against legalization for recreational purposes.
His primary competitor, Rep. Jeanne Ives, has consistently railed against any type of legalization.
Here’s a look at where the candidates stand:
While all Democratic candidates favor legalizing recreational marijuana, there are some debates about how the process should take place.
The perceived front runners — Pritzker, Biss and Kennedy — all favor legalization, arguing it would bring more tax revenue into a state with nearly $9 billion in unpaid bills.
They also say it would help Illinois’ overcrowded prison problem and fight what they see as racial disparities in sentencing and arrests.
Illinois was considered to be one of the top 12 states with the most arrests for marijuana possession, according to the American Civil Liberties Union’s most recent analysis in 2010. While African-Americans made up 15 percent of the population at the time, they accounted for 58 percent of marijuana-related arrests.
“We must review and commute the sentences of people incarcerated for marijuana offenses in Illinois,” said Pritzker, a Chicago entrepreneur. “It’s time to bring the era of mass incarcerations for minor drug offenses to an end.”
Kennedy, of Kenilworth, echoed the sentiment and said he would commute sentences on a case-by-case basis for non-violent offenders solely convicted of possession or sale of the drug. He also wants the University of Illinois to oversee legalization, saying the school would act as a third-party not “looking to profit off of …read more