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The Future of Weed: Illinois Pushes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Use

Mar 24, 2017 05:28 AM EDT

Lawmakers in Illinois are proposing to legalize the use of recreational marijuana. This is courtesy of a few bills that were introduced this March, which may make it legal for adults 21 years old and above to buy, posses and grow marijuana on a limited level.

If the bills are passed, Illinois would be the first Midwestern state to allow the general public to purchase marijuana, Marijuana Policy Project reports.

According to Chicago Tribune, the bills cover various aspects of cultivating marijuana. The bills will allow Illinois to license and regulate people and businesses involved in the industry. They will also push for safety regulations such as testing and labeling requirements.

For instance, the measure will allow residents to possess up to 28 grams of marijuana and grow five plants. Marijuana will also be taxed at a rate of $50 per ounce (wholesale), exclusive of the standard 6.25 percent sales tax of Illinois.

The law would also allow medical marijuana dispensaries to sell recreational marijuana for a year before newly licensed businesses can fully enter the marijuana market.

"If we bring this out in the open, we can generate revenue legally rather than for the black market," Sen. Heather Steans told Chicago Tribune.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy said that removing the criminal element of marijuana and regulating the product will result to safer communities.

The Marijuana Police Project estimates that Illinois may be able to generate $350 million to $700 million in revenue per year.

Illinois currently has a program that allows the sale of marijuana to patients that have cancer or AIDS. However, only 17,000 patients have been able to purchase medical marijuana, as there have to be broad qualifying conditions to be allowed for purchase.

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