Gov. Bruce Rauner’s amendatory vetoes on marijuana legislation may offer a glimpse into his administration’s pot policy.
Rauner sent two bills dealing with marijuana back to legislators with recommended changes. One would have pushed back the expiration of the state’s delayed medical marijuana pilot program, from the end of 2017 to four years from the time the first dispensary permit is issued. In his amendatory veto, Rauner said a 120-day extension was more appropriate, to make for delays blamed on Gov. Pat Quinn.
State Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), the sponsor of the state’s medical marijuana legislation, says if Rauner’s changes stick, he’ll have to start pushing for new medical marijuana legislation long before the pilot program is evaluated.
“I’m going to have to move pretty soon to start working on what it ought to look like,” Lang said, “and it’s difficult when you don’t know what’s working and not working in the current law.”
Lang has been a vocal critic of Rauner’s legislative agenda and budget actions, but he doesn’t believe that played into Rauner’s changes to the extension legislation.
“I think the governor is a professional at what he does. I don’t always agree with what he does, but I can’t imagine he’d throw thousands of sick people under the bus because he’s unhappy with one legislator,” Lang said.
Rauner also made changes to a bill on decriminalizing marijuana throughout the state. He considered the standards too lax in the legislation, such as fining people $55 to $125 for being caught with 15 grams of marijuana. Rauner proposed $100 to $200 fines for 10 grams instead. He also wanted changes to new standards on what can be considered driving under the influence of marijuana.
In his veto message, Rauner said he supports the spirit of decriminalization, as he considers prosecuting marijuana possession as a crime “a drain on public resources.”