Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey and several state lawmakers want the state to move forward toward legalizing marijuana in Illinois.
"This is an idea whose time has more than come. It's policy that makes sense from a criminal justice standpoint, from an economic standpoint [and] from a revenue standpoint," Fritchey said at an afternoon press conference at the Cook County Building.
He and others want the Illinois General Assembly to create a task force to research, develop and propose legislation to legalize and regulate recreational use of marijuana in Illinois.
The announcement is clearly meant to prod leaders in Springfield. In February state reps Robyn Gabel of Evanston and Sara Feigenholtz of Chicago introduced a bill calling for a study of marijuana legalization. It's been sitting in the house rules committee ever since.
Colorado officials said they collected nearly $7 million in tax revenues -- $3.5 million in January and $3.2 million in February -- since that state's legal pot law took effect at the beginning of the year.
Illinois earlier this year became the 20th state in the union to permit the use of medical marijuana. The four-year pilot project carries with it some of the strictest standards in the nation, and while the new law took effect Jan. 1, state agencies are still working through the rules that will govern the program. Hearings on those proposed rules will be held in May.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has advocated decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy has spoken out against the idea, citing a spike in marijuana-related violence in pockets of the city.