By Robert McCoppin and Dan Petrella
Democratic state lawmaker has filed a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois that likely goes further than other legislators prefer, but it has officially started the debate over complex legislation that will need to serve many interests.
The bill, introduced Jan. 25 by Rep. Carol Ammons of Urbana, would allow licensed businesses to grow and sell pot, and residents to grow up to 24 plants at home.
The measure is unlikely to pass because lawmakers are expected to act on a more restrictive proposal that’s been in the works for more than a year.
Among the more noteworthy provisions, Ammons’ bill would allow for the creation of on-site consumption areas for customers to smoke or swallow the drug.
The bill would also require 10 percent of the net income of a marijuana business to go to the local governing body, while also creating a relatively low 10 percent excise tax to generate state revenue. And it would include special provisions for minority business owners and communities.
Ammons has supported legalization since before she first took office in 2015. She previously co-sponsored Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill to decriminalize possession of marijuana. But she may face an uphill fight getting her new bill considered.
In Springfield, big, controversial policy changes like legalizing recreational marijuana typically don’t happen without long negotiations, so legislation introduced by a single lawmaker without such discussion may never see a vote.
Legalizing medical marijuana in Illinois took years of debate and dealing by former state Rep. Lou Lang of Skokie, a veteran of decades at the Capitol.