State ends up with extra money, still hoping for legalization of recreational marijuana to raise revenue

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WREX) — Illinois only has just under 20 days left to figure out how it wants to balance its check book.

And now, it has more money than originally thought to work with because of higher than expected tax revenue.

“We think that this $1.6 billion will ensure next year’s budget is reasonable, is sustainable and addresses some key priorities,” Rep. Tom Demmer, R-Dixon says.

But, it’s also relying on other major sweeping changes to make ends meet. One of those is legalizing recreational marijuana.

“It will bring hundreds of millions of dollars to the state of Illinois and create jobs,” Gov. JB Pritzker says.

The proposal on the table would tax cannabis products at different levels.

Cannabis with THC levels at or below 35% would have a 10% tax. If it has more than 35% THC levels, the state would tax the product at 25%. Then, all cannabis-infused products would have a 20% tax.

But, some local lawmakers say they are skeptical about how much money that move would actually bring in to the state.

“The concern about how this will raise a couple hundred million,” Sen. Dave Syverson, R-Rockford says. “But, the trade off for what we’re going to be dealing with certainly doesn’t make sense.”

Lawmakers say that trade off is enforcement costs including cracking down on people driving under the influence of cannabis. And to others, that could mean potential health problems that they say could come with more access to the substance.

“I’m not one of those to say we should legalize marijuana simply for revenue for the state,” Sen. Steve Stadelman says. “We need to look at the social costs as well.”

Andi TenBarge

Andi TenBarge


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