Chicago votes overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana, kinda of

Matt Saintsing
March 21, 2018 - 11:22 am

Voters in Illinois' largest county, which includes Chicago, have overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative calling for the legalization of marijuana on Tuesday. 

Cook County, the nation's second most populous, has more residents than 27 states. The passage of the non-binding resolution sends a strong message to state lawmakers that ending the proscription on cannabis is an important issue among voters. 

The question, which could appear on ballots state-wide reads: 

"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?"

Since the resolution is non-binding, it doesn't necessarily mean cannabis will be legalized, but the results could be used to gauge public opinion to state lawmakers in Springfield, the state's capital. 

Illinois also had a gubernatorial primary election, with Illinois businessman JB Pritzker earning the Democratic nomination. During his speech Tuesday evening, Pritzker said, "We can begin by immediately removing one area of racial injustice in our criminal justice system. Let's legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana." 

Legalizing cannabis has been a central campaign issue as he seeks to become the next governor of Illinois, a state that already has a medical marijuana program. Post-traumatic stress (PTS), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and chronic pain are some of the diagnoses that can qualify for the medical cannabis program. 

Illinois is home to more than 700,000 veterans, according to the 2015 census, with over 250,000 Vietnam vets.