On the heels of governor-elect JB Pritzker's stated desire to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois "nearly right away," the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) points out the economic positives of that move.

New research finds that the taxation and regulation of marijuana in Illinois could create nearly 24,000 new jobs, boost the state’s economy by $1 billion per year, generate over $500 million in new state and local tax revenue, and reduce annual law enforcement expenditures. The study was conducted by the Illinois Economic Policy Institute (ILEPI) and the Project for Middle Class Renewal (PMCR) at the University of Illinois.

Some of the report's highlights:

High taxpayer costs for law enforcement and cannabis-related incarceration would be reduced by legalizing recreational marijuana. In total, Illinois taxpayers would save $18.4 million annually in reduced incarceration costs, law enforcement spending, and legal fees from marijuana legalization. This revenue could be redirected to solve other crimes–such as homicides, robberies, and assaults.

The economy would also grow if Illinois were to legalize recreational marijuana. If marijuana were legalized, regulated, and taxed in Illinois, an estimated $1.6 billion would be sold in the state, in part due to regional tourism. At a 26.25 percent state excise tax on retail marijuana in addition to the 6.25 percent general sales tax, Illinois would:

  • Generate $525 million in new tax revenues, including $505 million for the state and $20 million for local governments– a move that credit rating agencies have called “credit positive"
  • Create over 23,600 new jobs at more than 2,600 businesses in Illinois
  • Boost the Illinois economy by $1 billion annually
  • Allow the state to make additional pension payments and vital public investments in infrastructure, K-12 public schools, college tuition assistance programs, and drug treatment and prevention programs.

The Illinois Economic Policy Institute concludes that:

Legalizing, regulating, and taxing recreational marijuana would reduce costs to taxpayers, spur economic activity, create jobs, and shrink the black market. While new tax revenues would be modest and would not solve Illinois’ fiscal issues, they would improve the state’s budget situation and credit rating outlook, fund investments in critical infrastructure and public education, and reduce criminal justice costs. Illinois should legalize, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana.

More From WROK 1440 AM / 96.1 FM