Governor-elect JB Pritzker said Wednesday he wants to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois almost immediately after being sworn in next year.

He also said he will look at vacating arrest records for those who have been convicted of crimes involving marijuana. “I definitely want to look at all those arrest records. If we’re going to legalize recreational marijuana, then we shouldn’t have all the, what I think are, challenges in our criminal justice system, you know, still existing, people sitting in prison for things that are currently legal,” Pritzker said.

For those wondering if a legalization measure has to be voted on by legislators before being implemented, the answer is no:

The governor-elect can legalize recreational marijuana simply by signing legislation passed by lawmakers in the general assembly. Illinois residents do not have to vote to approve the measure.

That message essentially drew a major battle line between him and incumbent Bruce Rauner (R), who opposed recreational cannabis before and during the 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

“I do not support legalizing marijuana," Governor Rauner said last November. "I think that’s a mistake. You know there’s a massive, human experiment going on in Colorado, and California, other places. We should see how that’s impacted lives and addiction and hurt young people before we make any decision about it here."


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