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Illinois Governor Pledges To Legalize Marijuana In Inaugural Address

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Newly sworn-in Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) confirmed in his inaugural address on Monday that he plans to make good on a campaign promise to legalize marijuana.

“In the interests of keeping the public safe from harm, expanding true justice in our criminal justice system, and advancing economic inclusion, I will work with the legislature to legalize, tax and regulate the sale of recreational cannabis in Illinois,” Pritzker said in remarks shortly after taking the oath of office.

Pritzker had made legalizing marijuana a centerpiece of his election campaign last year going back to the Democratic primary, during which he held a press conference outside of a medical cannabis dispensary at one point.

Shortly after the general election, in which he ousted now former Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), Pritzker said that he wanted to pursue ending marijuana prohibition “right away” following his inauguration.

A recent study found that legalization would create 24,000 jobs in Illinois, as well as generate more than $500 million in tax revenue and infuse about $1 billion into the state economy overall by 2020.

A Democratic senator last week moved to file placeholder legislation to legalize cannabis.

Pritzker isn’t the only state governor to focus on marijuana during a big speech this month.

Reelected New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) pledged to legalize cannabis during his inaugural address, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) spoke about decriminalizing marijuana possession in his State of the Commonwealth speech and new Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) touted the benefits of hemp and legal cannabis as part of his State of the State address.

Thirteen Chicago Mayoral Candidates Unanimously Endorse Marijuana Legalization At Forum

Photo element courtesy of J.B. Pritzker.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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