Marijuana Divides Illinois Gubernatorial Debates

Candidates in Illinois gubernatorial race are divided over the issue of legal marijuana. While leading Democratic candidates are in favor of legalizing recreational use, Republican candidates are opposed. The issue is quickly rising to the forefront of each candidate's campaign.

Gov. Bruce Rauner, who is up for reelection, implemented the state's pilot medical marijuana program in 2015. However, he has since fought against any attempts to expand the list of conditions under which patients can qualify for the drug, and has expressed a firm stance against recreational use.

The frontrunner in the competition against Rauner, State Rep. Jeanne Ives, opposes all forms of legal marijuana. However, Ives and Rauner are not the only names that will appear on the March 20 primary.

Sen. Daniel Biss, Billionaire J.B. Pritzker, and businessman Chris Kennedy are running for Governor of Illinois and are all in favor of legalizing adult use marijuana. One point of legalization all three candidates promote is the much-needed revenue the state would make from taxing the industry.

Pritzker also emphasized the racial disparity in state marijuana arrests along with Illinois' over-crowded prisons in his pro-legalization argument. He is in favor of reviewing and commuting the sentences of individuals charged with minor drug offenses.

Kennedy and Biss agreed with Pritzker, though Biss said he would take legalization a step further and enact a model that commutes drug sentences en masse. Biss would follow the example set by San Francisco, where thousands of marijuana convictions were thrown out without the need for action from those convicted.

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