Illinois is one of the biggest Democratic strongholds in the country. And yet, they've lagged far behind many states when it comes to marijuana legalization. Well this spring, Chicago residents will have a chance to change that...sort of.
On Wednesday, the Cook County Board approved a measure that will ask residents whether they believe marijuana should be legalized recreationally in the state. Cook County contains both Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. County residents will be able to vote on the marijuana referendum during the state's March primary.
Now, to be clear, the referendum's passage would have no effect on marijuana laws in Cook County or Illinois. Instead, if the referendum passes, the county will send a recommendation to the state government asking them to legalize cannabis. But if the referendum were to pass by a large number, it would send a message to state legislators in Springfield, particularly Democrats who rely heavily on Chicago voters to remain in power.
It should also be noted that Illinois is holding a gubernatorial election next year, and many experts believe anti-marijuana Republican Governor Bruce Rauner is extremely vulnerable to lose re-election. Two candidates running for the Democratic nomination have endorse cannabis legalization, meaning the Cook County referendum could also give support and momentum for whoever ends up winning that primary.
(h/t Chicago Tribune)