SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Jan. 22, 2018) – A bill introduced in the Illinois Senate would set the stage to legalize recreational marijuana during the 2018 mid-term elections in November.
Sen. William Cunningham (D-Chicago) introduced Senate Bill 2275 (SB2275) on Jan. 10. The legislation would authorize a ballot referendum for the 2018 elections to give the voters an opportunity to legalize recreational marijuana. The question posed to voters reads as follows:
“Do you support the legalization of possession and use of marijuana by persons who are at least 21 years of age, subject to regulation and taxation that is similar to the regulation and taxation of tobacco and alcohol?”
Because SB2275 is not a traditional bill signed into law by the governor and would instead initiate a ballot referendum, it must pass with a three-fifths majority vote in the House and the Senate.
Passage of SB2275 would take another step toward ending marijuana prohibition in the Prairie State. Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB2275 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.
Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the feds maintain complete prohibition of cannabis. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.
Legalization of marijuana in Illinois would remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By mostly ending state prohibition, SB2275 would essentially sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
A GROWING MOVEMENT
Illinois has already legalized medical marijuana. Passage of SB2275 would further ignore federal prohibition and nullify it in practice in the state. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalized recreational cannabis, with California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joining them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization were passed in those states in November 2016.
With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.
SB2275 was referred to the Senate Assignments Committee where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.
Tenth Amendment Center
The Tenth Amendment Center is a national think tank that works to preserve and protect the principles of strictly limited government through information, education, and activism. The center serves as a forum for the study and exploration of state and individual sovereignty issues, focusing primarily on the decentralization of federal government power as required by the Constitution. For more information visit the Tenth Amendment Center Blog.