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Legal recreational marijuana will be part of Illinois’ future. It’s a matter of when, not if.
That’s the message from lawmakers backing legislation to fully legalize and regulate pot, and the coalition of groups lining up to support the bills.

State Senator Heather Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy, both Chicago Democrats, were joined by members of the Coalition for a Safer Illinois this morning at the Thompson Center in the Loop. They gave reporters details on the General Assembly’s first hearing on Senate Bill 316 and House Bill 2353.

They say prohibition hasn’t worked with marijuana and it’s time to get gangs and drug cartels out of the market which generates violent crime.

Allowing adults to possess, grow and purchase up to 28 grams of weed would also generate millions of dollars in tax revenue.

Cassidy cited surveys that show 66 percent of Illinois voters support legalization.

Joining the lawmakers were representatives of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, the Marijuana Policy Project and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

The ACLU, NORML and other legal, medical and community groups are also part of the coalition.