Marijuana Denied: Rauner stalls legalization of recreational marijuana in Illinois

Jack Plewa, Opinion Editor

Marijuana is now legal in 23 states and the District of Colombia, either for medicinal purposes, for recreational use, or for both.

According to, in Alaska, adults 21 and over can purchase, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana and six plants, while in Oregon one can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana in public and 8 ounces at home.

According to, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a bill that was supposed to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the bill, people who are caught with possessing up to 15 grams of marijuana would not have to go to court, but would be fined $55-$125.

However, Rauner disagreed and thought it should be lowered to 10 grams and fines of $100-$200. It is now up to the lawmakers, “who can vote to go along with Rauner’s changes or reject them. If lawmakers opt not to take up the changes, the bill dies.”

In the meantime, the current law continues to stand, and people caught with “small amounts of marijuana face fines of up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail.” Illinois law does currently allow limited medicinal use under a strict pilot program.

There have been several debates on whether or not to completely legalize marijuana in the remaining 27 states.

From an economic point of view, legalizing marijuana would be beneficial. According to, state and local governments would “save billions of dollars that they currently spend regulating marijuana use.”

Also, legalizing marijuana “would offer a large new revenue stream,” and generate $8.7 billion in tax revenue every year, according to their estimates.

Some feel marijuana should be legalized only for medicinal purposes.

“It offers pain relief to patients who may not get pain relief in another manner,” Judith Delaney, school nurse, said.

“It’s been proven that medical marijuana has helped patients in pain,” Emanuel Cruz, junior, said.

“Marijuana should be legalized for medicinal purposes because recent scientific breakthroughs have made cancer a lot more approachable with the help of medicinal marijuana,” Alex Romero, junior, said. “If it were decriminalized across the nation, the police could focus on more important crimes.”

“If it will help people and make them get better, then it should be legalized,” Cassara Butler, junior, said.

However, there are also several drawbacks to legalizing marijuana.

If marijuana was legalized, then there would be easy availability, creating new consumers rather than providing extra help and rehabilitation to current users, according to Their site states that use of all drugs impairs the users’ ability to think clearly, which can lead to violent actions and behaviors.

Addiction is another major problem, and can have an effect on everyone. Legalizing marijuana could then lead to a high percentage of people becoming addicted to the drug, causing more problems than there would be without marijuana.

According to, marijuana is considered a gateway drug, causing people who don’t do drugs to try many new ones, such as heroin and cocaine. Therefore, legalization would only cause more addiction problems and more violence.

According to, “Legalizing marijuana sends the wrong message to young people,” once again, leading to addiction.

“There’s too much chance for the misuse of the drug,” Delaney said.

“People are going to get high all the time [if it is legal],” Butler said.

In the end, the government will make the final decision on legalization, and society will decide whether or not to use it.