By Imani Joseph
It is known by many names: pot, weed, cannabis, wood, joint, and marijuana, but despite its many aliases marijuana is still recreationally illegal in Illinois. States such as California, Alaska, Nevada, etc. have legalized recreational marijuana causing an influx in state revenue but this has not yet happened in IL. However, things may change in Illinois with newly elected Governor JB Pritzker, saying "I am ready to stand with leaders, communities, and families across our state to legalize marijuana and move our state forward.”
When asking Charlotte White, a registered voter in Illinois, if she would vote in favor of the legalization of recreational marijuana she responded, “Yes...bottom line is fewer people will be going to jail because it will be something that’s legalized, and also be bringing funding into the state.” In Mrs. White’s opinion, the legalization will not cause an increase in drug use, but the decriminalization of marijuana users. This may be especially important for some minority groups. The American Civil Liberties Union reported that, for some states in the US, blacks were six times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites (American Civil Liberties Union, 2013). The legalization of recreational marijuana does not just have a social impact on a state, but also a financial one. In California, where marijuana is part of normal agribusiness, the sales tax of marijuana flowers are $9.25 per ounce (Loughead & Scarboro, Tax Foundation, 2018). In combination with taxes on marijuana flowers and seeds, the marijuana industry grossed $1.4 billion in 2017 and is predicted to gross $2.8 billion by 2021 (Berke & Gould, Business Insider, 2018).
An anonymous angel investor in a marijuana-related business stated, “The primary reasons we invested in a marijuana-related business were the significant growth opportunities as a new and emerging industry as well as the potential dramatic upside assuming legalization occurs in the future.” While nothing is certain, and there are many risks and possible negative outcomes as well, the legalization of marijuana may decrease the number of people imprisoned for marijuana possession and have economic benefits to help lift Illinois out of debt