Could Illinois be the next Colorado? Maybe. Illinois lawmakers on Wednesday introduced legislation in the Senate and House that would make marijuana legal in Illinois. Could this solve Illinois' revenue problem?

The bills both have long way to go before becoming law.

Both measures would establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed for adult use. The legislation would:

  • Make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess, grow, and purchase limited amounts of marijuana.
  • The state would license and regulate businesses to cultivate, process, test, and sell marijuana to adults
  • The Bill would create and enforce strict health and safety regulations, such as testing and labeling requirements and restrictions on marketing.

The senate measure l was introduced by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago), the House version was introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).

So how much tax revenue would be generated? It is estimated that $350 million in taxes would be generated for the state coffers, every year. Some estimates say as much as $699 million in new tax revenue could be raised.

Here's the breakdown:

  • The bills propose taxing marijuana at a rate of $50 per ounce at the wholesale level
  • Retail sales would be subject to the Illinois' state’s standard 6.25% sales tax

Rep Cassidy said:

Marijuana prohibition is a quagmire that creates far more problems than it prevents,” Cassidy said. “Several states have adopted sensible alternatives to prohibition, and it is time for Illinois to develop its own exit strategy. Regulating marijuana and removing the criminal element from marijuana production and sales will make our communities safer.

Again, it's not even close to being a done deal as there are a lot of legislative hoops to jump through. Do you agree? Is legalizing marijuana for recreational sales the way to go to partially solve Illinois' budget mess?