Bloomington Republican willing to back marijuana legalization - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Bloomington Republican willing to back marijuana legalization

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WEEK) -- -

State. Sen Jason Barickman said he's willing to back legalization of cannabis in Illinois. 

The Bloomington Republican said he will back legislation to legalize marijuana if it includes safeguards against minors and others who may be endangered from purchasing it. Barickman noted alcohol and tobacco are already regulated similarly. 

"Around the country, we’ve seen the public’s views on cannabis use change dramatically in a short amount of time. It wasn’t that long ago that cannabis was far more taboo than it is considered today. In Illinois, it’s likely that we’ll see legislation advanced, as early as next spring, which will attempt to legalize possession and use of cannabis. I am willing to support legalization for adult use if it is done correctly," said Barickman. 

Barickman also said there is a strong fiscal argument for legalizing cannabis, saying restricting usage is an inefficient use of taxpayer dollars and pushes money onto the black market. 

The senator said new state revenues from cannabis taxation could be used to pay down state debt, provide tax relief, and could be used for mental health and addiction treatment. 

"Regardless of how individuals may feel about cannabis usage, we can’t sit on the sidelines while others work out the details. Therefore I plan to work with my colleagues to develop a legalization plan that adopts reasonable safeguards and embraces fiscal reforms," said Barickman. 

The comments come after Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) recently spoke out against cannabis legalization in Illinois. In an interview with a southern Illinois TV station, Rauner said he won't support legalization without studies of "ramifications" in states that have taken that step, such as Colorado. Rauner referred to legalization in those states as a "massive human experiment." 

Barickman said he reached his position after "much study, conversation and thought."

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