Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said he will consider signing a measure to decriminalize small amounts of pot possession, but told lawmakers to get their priorities in order.
“We get caught up in what our state pie is going to be and how much marijuana is going to get sold. You know, it’s lovely topics. We’ve got a budget crisis. We need more jobs. We need higher wages. We need more money for our schools. Let’s focus on what matters,” Rauner said.
The bill would decriminalize possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana and allow low leves of the drug in a driver’s blood. Rauner said he wants to see what all is in the bill before committing to sign.
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Even if Rauner does sign, state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said the conversation is not over.
“Whether we’re talking about the quantities, whether we’re talking about repeat offenders, whether we’re talking about the fine levels, all of these things, I actually believe we need to keep talking about this area of policy,” Cassidy said.
Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws, said lawmakers need to legalize industrial hemp farming, make the medical cannabis pilot program permanent “and then we would like to see some legislation start to advance that would actually tax and regulate the adult recreational cannabis market.”
Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems opposes that idea. Executive Director Anita Bedell said it’s unrealistic to think legalizing cannabis for recreational use will happen and not create a headache for the state.
“It’s just a pipe dream to think that you’re going to legalize another drug, get money for it, and not have any problems,” Bedell said.