Every so often you'll see lists or articles written about the next states most likely to pass recreational marijuana. And while many different states appear at the top of this list, one expert says Illinois should probably be higher up.

Chris Stone is the CEO of a medical marijuana dispensary in Illinois. In a recent interview, Stone says he believes the state will legalize marijuana by 2019 and begin operation in 2020. He cited the history of states passing medical marijuana and then approving of recreational a short time later.

"When you do a medical program, it's usually about five or six years before you implement a recreational program," Stone said. 

Stone also noted that Illinois' state budget is not balanced and is running at about a $3 billion deficit right now. By legalizing marijuana, the state would be able to tax sales as well as draw in more tourism that could help fix that issue. He estimates that recreational marijuana would generate $1 billion of revenue for the state each year.

"We live in a state that doesn't have, what I would consider, a balanced budget. It's probably $3 billion out of whack," Stone said. "We live in a state that hasn't had a capital bill to be able to build roads and bridges in almost 10 years. These are the things that definitely move the needle in terms of a recreational program, especially if you look at other states."

Two weeks ago, we mentioned Illinois as an important battleground state in 2017 for marijuana legalization. Current Republican governor Bruce Rauner is anti-legalization, but is largely considered to be the most vulnerable incumbent running for re-election this fall. And the leading candidate for the Democrats, J.B. Prtizker, says he is in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana if elected. A Pritzker win next fall would definitely allow Illinois to legalize cannabis in 2019.

(h/t Illinois News Network)