Republican Lawmaker Wants Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Illinois

Says it could raise as much as $700 million in tax dollars annually

EYEWITNESS NEWS CAPITOL BUREAU - One of the first GOP lawmakers is hopping on board to support legalizing recreational marijuana.

Senator Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington), says he wants to work with Democrats to get it done. While Barickman is giving Democrats a thumbs up, he says there are some things he needs to see in the bill before voting in favor of it.

He says he supports the idea, but it needs to be done correctly, like putting in safeguards including restrictions for minors and others who may be in danger from someone using marijuana, like secondhand smoke.

Barickman also says money being spent to combat marijuana use in the state is not working. He says he'd rather see tax dollars flowing into the state by taxing marijuana.

Estimates show it could raise between $300 - $700 million annually which could help the state rebuild and pay down billions of dollars in debt.

One Republican says he agrees with Barickman that in order to make this work, it needs to be done with Democrats.

Hearings were held in Chicago last week, discussing marijuana legislation. Barickman hopes to modify current legislation and would like to see a new plan by February.

While lawmakers could vote next year, many believe it won't happen until after the 2018 election.

Eight states already legalized recreational use of marijuana and more are considering proposals.

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