Illinois lawmakers have advice for NY on marijuana

Illinois State Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy visited the Capitol on Tuesday to chat with New York legislators and key stakeholders about legalizing recreational pot.

Steans and Cassidy were the primary sponsors of the first state legislation legalizing the sale of adult-use cannabis to be passed in the United States.

Other states have legalized marijuana through a referendum, which is seen as less complicated.

New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) would reverse longstanding injustices in the criminal justice system and properly regulate New York’s existing market for marijuana. It is projected to create 30,000 new jobs and billions of dollars in economic impact, as well as generate hundreds of millions of dollars in statewide tax revenue to fund youth education, law enforcement, consumer protections and community reinvestment. 

“We passed adult-use cannabis legislation in Illinois by refusing to wait or to take no for an answer,” Steans said. “And that’s exactly what the sponsors, advocates, and supporters of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act have done here in New York. I’m proud to be here to lend my voice to that effort, and to help bring long overdue justice and economic opportunity to the people of New York State.”

The MRTA has recently gained support from the Farm Bureau and local businesses. Meanwhile, polling has shown strong statewide support for the legislation, particularly in the New York City suburbs and upstate New York, with voters in swing Senate districts more likely to support elected officials who vote in favor of the bill.

“When we first introduced the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act in Illinois, we faced many of the same opponents, attacks and misinformation we’ve seen here in New York,” Cassidy said. “But the voices of Illinois residents were stronger, demanding an end to decades of irrational and discriminatory policy.”

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