The incumbent is against recreational use, and the challenger has shown support of legalization, which makes marijuana laws a central factor to the Governor race for the state of Illinois.
Governor Bruce Rauner has specifically stated he is opposed to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Rauner says the issue is a complex one, and it is one that Illinois should not tackle until the state’s officials have a better understanding and the means to create an effective management plan.
Rauner listed many concerns in regard to legalizing marijuana, including the potential to increase healthcare costs due to more emergency room visits and potential for substance abuse to increase within the state.
Meanwhile, Rauner has shown his support of medical marijuana use, as he allowed terminal illness and post-traumatic stress disorder to be added to the list of illnesses that can be treated by medical marijuana. He also signed a bill making it easier for patients to access marijuana in the state, as the bill negates the need for fingerprints and background checks for those who are seeking approval and a prescription for marijuana.
Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker, meanwhile, has focused on the potential revenue from legalization, noting taxes from legal cannabis could bring in anywhere from $350 to $700 million for the state, while it would also increase safety for all state residents and the minority communities in particular.
Pritzker wants to see significant involvement from minorities in the running of the marijuana industry for Illinois, thereby providing more jobs and greater security for the group impacted most when it comes to marijuana possession charges. The involvement will be at various levels, from helping to run dispensaries and also at the cultivation level.
Pritzker has also announced the intent to commute sentences related to marijuana possession, thereby helping out the minorities who have been affected by the current penalties for marijuana use and possession.
Meanwhile, Illinois residents have shown a leaning towards legalization support, as polls have shown as many as two-thirds of the state’s residents are behind the idea of making recreational marijuana use legal. This is despite the fact that the state’s medical marijuana law is one of the strictest in the US.