First, it was medical marijuana, then decriminalization, now lawmakers in Springfield have moved the discussion on to the legalization of pot. Does it surprise you that voters in Illinois say that they support this measure?

According to a piece in yesterday's Rock River Times, clear majorities of registered voters in Illinois are behind not only decriminalization, but legalization of weed for recreational use.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute says 66 percent of people in Illinois want legal, recreational marijuana. The number jumps to 74 percent when asked about decriminalization.

The Simon Poll of 1,000 randomly selected registered voters found that nearly three-quarters (74%) of voters support or strongly support decriminalization of marijuana
where people in possession of small amounts for personal consumption would not be prosecuted but may be fined.  One in five voters, 21 percent, oppose or strongly oppose decriminalization and 5 percent answered otherwise. In 2016, Governor Rauner signed a law decriminalizing up to 10 grams of marijuana. Under the new law people caught with up to 10 grams can face fines of $100 to $200 and potential municipal penalties instead of facing a class B misdemeanor and potentially six months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

From the Simon Poll:

Support is also strong for legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Two-thirds of voters, 66 percent, support or strongly support legalization of recreational marijuana if it is taxed and regulated like alcohol. A notable 45 percent of voters support legalization strongly. Only 31 percent of voters oppose or strongly oppose and 3 percent answered otherwise. In Chicago, 80 percent of voters support or strongly support decriminalization statistically the same as their neighbors in suburban Cook and the collar counties who support or strongly support at 79 percent. In the rural regions outside Cook and the collar counties, 63 percent of voters supported or strongly supported decriminalization.

You would think the biggest difference in opinion would be between the youngest and oldest registered voters, but the Simon Poll says otherwise:

Illinois voters younger than 35-years-old show the most favorability to legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol. Four in five, 83 percent, support or strongly support the proposition. This percentage is identical to the same support for decriminalization. Seventeen percent are opposed. Voters thirty-five to fifty-years-old support or strongly support at 77 percent, and oppose or strongly oppose at 22
percent. Among fifty-one to sixty-five-year-old voters 69 percent support or strongly support legalization and 28 percent oppose or strongly oppose. Baby boomers and the greatest generation sixty-six-years-old and older are split on the issue with 51 percent stating they support or strongly support legalization of recreational marijuana if taxed and regulated like alcohol and 45 percent stating they oppose or strongly oppose.

Even the political parties seem to be in accord. A majority of both Republicans and Democrats support a change in Illinois' marijuana laws.


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