State Representative David Allen Welter, R-Morris, issued the following statement on the passage of House Bill 1438, an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in the State of Illinois for adults over the age of 21:
“I respect the views of constituents on all sides of the cannabis debate who reached out to me personally or contacted my office in recent months. When evaluating any piece of legislation, I use the standard of whether the benefit to our state and local communities outweigh the concerns of making a major policy change. We also need to face reality. The fact is, roughly 800,000 people in Illinois have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense, crowding our prisons and clogging our courts. Clearly, we have a large population of people in our state who use recreational cannabis despite it being illegal.
“I voted for House Bill 1438 because I do not believe Illinois’ current policy on cannabis is working. Prohibition does not work and we see that. Criminals have profited immensely from selling cannabis on the illicit market. Putting safeguards in place, taxing it, regulating it, I believe provides a better market and a safer market for our state. We put 20% of the revenue generated by legalization into funding for mental health and substance abuse services in our state. An additional 10% of the revenue will go to pay down the state’s $6.7 billion backlog of unpaid bills, which directly benefits hospitals, health care and social service providers right here in our community and across the state. Taking everything into consideration, cannabis should be a personal choice, a personal liberty choice.”
House Bill 1438 was approved by the House of Representatives in a vote of 66-47-2. It now goes to Governor JB Pritzker to be signed into law. The bill is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020.