Illinois Senate Approves Non-Binding, Advisory Question on Pot Legalization

Last Thursday, the Senate in Illinois voted in favor of a statewide non-binding, advisory referendum to legalize and tax the recreational use of marijuana.

After the Senate voting – 37 to 13 – the process will continue at the House of Representatives for consideration. Meanwhile, the vote comes as two legalization bills remain in limbo both in the House and Senate.

The Chicago Tribune reported on Thursday that the ballot question would be only advisory, so even if voters approve, lawmakers still would have to act.

On Illinois General Assembly page, it said that the Marijuana Legalization Referendum Act. “requires the State Board of Elections to cause a statewide advisory public question to be submitted to the voters at the November 6, 2018, general election.”

The question will ask people whether they back the legalization of marijuana for “persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol.”

“I think it well advised for us as members of the Illinois General Assembly, before we possibly take a vote on this issue, to find out what our voters think. As I said, it’s been done in virtually every other state that has considered this questions,” Sponsoring Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, said.

State Sen. Heather Steans, who is sponsoring a bill to legalize recreational use, voted “present.”

“I didn’t want to do anything to make it seem like I am not negotiating in good faith on the bill I am trying to pass,” she said following the vote.

Cunningham said in most U.S. states that allow recreational use, it was done by voters expressing support in the ballot box.

Previous polls have already shown that at least 66 percent of people in Illinois want to see full legalization. Marijuana is already decriminalized in the state.

Meanwhile, the populous Cook County in Illinois will vote on March 20 whether they want to legalized marijuana.