May 31, After a prolonged debate in the Illinois House, members passed a bill that will legalize the use of recreational marijuana, on a vote of 66-47.
The vote to approve was not along party lines, with some Republicans voting for passage, and some Democrats rejecting the bill. The bill sponsor, Rep Kelly Cassidy (D), has worked on the bill for several years and says it is the first in the nation to take on a myriad of issues that does far more than just make marijuana use legal by those over the age of 21.
The bill, HB-1438, sets up expungement of some past criminal records, for those convicted of engaging in marijuana use that will now be legal. It looks to help members of minority communities to get into the legal sales of marijuana, and help in the financing of these businesses with a loan program.
The fear is that now that marijuana will be legalized, only those who are already well off can afford to get into what could be a lucrative business. Cassidy’s bill looks to correct for the past incarceration of pot users, and to help those communities injured by past arrests to be seeing some of the expected revenues from future sales.
Cassidy said in her opening remarks, “It is time we reverse the war on drugs.”