Your Illinois News Radar » Outline begins to emerge of marijuana legalization – The Capitol Fax Blog


* Pantagraph

Jason Barickman is confident recreational marijuana use will be legal in Illinois in two years — but a lot of details remain undecided.

“It’s rather inevitable that Illinois will (act to) legalize cannabis next year,” said Barickman, a Republican state senator from Bloomington, “and I think it’s incredibly important that, if that be the case, we sit at the table and make sure it’s done in an appropriate way.”

Barickman hopes to let local areas opt out of legalizing marijuana; allow employers to impose zero-tolerance policies for use; direct some sales proceeds to law enforcement; and use revoking driver’s licenses as a deterrent for underage violators under a recreational marijuana law if passed.

The way that local opt-out part is written isn’t what’s actually being discussed, from what I’m told. Local communities will be allowed to opt out of siting dispensaries and grow centers. But if they don’t want those facilities in their areas they won’t qualify for any grants that will come out of legalization. Private use and possession will be legalized throughout the state. You just might have to travel to another town to purchase the products. That’s basically the same route the state took immediately after Prohibition. Those “blue laws” have faded over time.

It’s still somewhat up in the air, but regulated public use ought to be allowed, in my opinion. It should be treated more like alcohol. If you ban it in all public accommodations, people will smoke it in the street and then we’ll have another law enforcement problem. Plus, allowing regulated use in some public accommodations will create more business opportunities and, therefore, more jobs. We need more of both in this state, so let’s not get too nannyish over this.

Also, I have no problem with allowing zero-tolerance rules at places of employment, but the federal courts might have something to say about that.