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Illinois Senate Approves Marijuana Legalization Ballot Question

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Illinois lawmakers voted to place a marijuana legalization measure on the state’s November ballot.

The question posed to voters would read:

“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

The measure would not be binding, but would likely prod state lawmakers to more seriously consider passing a bill to legalize marijuana in 2019.

The Senate vote on Thursday was 37 to 13. The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“The debate over marijuana legalization is continuing to lead many states to consider various ideas and changes to current laws,” Sen. Bill Cunningham (D), the chief sponsor of the referendum legislation, said in a press release. “Asking the people of Illinois how they feel about the subject can help determine which path we take as legislators.”

Voters in Cook County — the state’s most populous county and the second largest in the U.S. — will already see a similar cannabis question on their March 20 primary election ballot.

Several candidates for governor and attorney general are campaigning on platforms that include support for marijuana legalization.

Illinois Voters Will Make Major Marijuana Decisions In March

Lawmakers in at least eight other states are considering bills to place marijuana referendums before voters.

That includes Rhode Island, where a state representative filed a cannabis legalization referendum proposal on Wednesday.

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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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