We're nearly certain that marijuana will eventually be legal in Illinois, but it's looking even more likely now that Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and a handful of commissioners are pushing to get a recreational marijuana referendum on the 2018 ballot. According to the Chicago Tribune, Preckwinkle is supporting a resolution introduced by commissioners John Fritchey and Luis Arroyo Jr. that would ask Cook County voters if they support the legalization of recreational weed for anyone 21 years of age or older.
If the proposed resolution is approved by the full board in December, the legal weed referendum would be placed on Cook Country's March 20, 2018 primary ballot. Even if voters overwhelmingly vote "yes," (a Southern Illinois University poll conducted earlier this year found that 74 percent of Chicagoans are in favor of legalization), the measure wouldn't have any legally-binding effects—lawmakers in Springfield will ultimately need to change Illinois laws to make recreational marijuana a reality. Still, the official support of the state's most populous county could create the kind of political momentum that got medical marijuana signed into law back in 2013.
Another big factor in the renewed push for legal kush is, unsurprisingly, the money. Back in March, State Senator Heather Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy introduced legislation (which was ultimately never brought to a vote) that would legalize recreational marijuana and tax the hell out of it, generating $699 million a year in new revenue for the state, according to a Marijuana Policy Project projection.
While there's still a long way to go until we're all buying joints at local dispensaries, the winds of change in Illinois marijuana policy seem to be gathering strength once again—and they smell suspiciously like the staircase outside your pothead neighbor's apartment.