Illinois lawmakers discuss legalizing recreational marijuana - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Illinois lawmakers discuss legalizing recreational marijuana

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Marijuana plant growing in a cultivation center. Marijuana plant growing in a cultivation center.
Recreational marijuana advocates speaking to Illinois legislatures. Recreational marijuana advocates speaking to Illinois legislatures.
The recreational marijuana bill would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 28 grams and five plants of marijuana. The recreational marijuana bill would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 28 grams and five plants of marijuana.
Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha says he doesn't support the legalization of recreational marijuana. Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha says he doesn't support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Recreational marijuana sponsors say prohibition doesn't work. Recreational marijuana sponsors say prohibition doesn't work.
QUINCY, Ill. (WGEM) -

There's talk in Springfield about legalizing recreational marijuana. 

The bill would allow adults 21 and over to possess up to 28 grams and five plants of marijuana.

Several lawmakers are in support of the bill, others had reservations. 

State Senator Heather Steans says 97% of the cannabis market in Illinois is on the black market. 

"Prohibition simply does not work," said Steans. "In Illinois it's estimated that 750,000 people use cannabis right now, yet we only have about 24,000 people with medical cannabis cards."

Travel Expert Rick Steves also spoke to Illinois legislatures on Tuesday. Steves advocated for legalization in his home state of Washington. 

"It's here today and it's going to be here tomorrow," said Steves. "What we need to do is take that black market down and turn it into a highly regulated and highly taxed, legal market so we can gain credibility and focus on the real risk to young people in our society, which is hard drug abuse."

Adams County State's Attorney Gary Farha says marijuana leads people to those hard drugs. 

"I've never seen an individual who had a major drug problem that didn't start off with cannabis," said Farha.

Supporters say legalizing recreational marijuana could bring the state upwards of $700 million

While that may be the case, Farha says other entities could suffer financially.

"What are the cost to the social services for the people who have come out there to live and they have no jobs?" said Farha. "They are homeless. Somebody has to take care of them. What are the cost of the medical problems that are caused by the ingestion of marijuana? There's medical benefits but there's also medical cost too. I don't see a great benefit to it."

The bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois still has a long way to go. Sponsors say there will be more hearings and possibly more changes to the legislation based on what they learn from other states.

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