On Tuesday, voters in Illinois participated in the state's primary elections to choose nominees for the general elections this November. And for marijuana advocates, the Illinois primary brought a pair of major victories.
Democratic voters in Illinois chose J.B. Pritzker, a businessman whose family owns Hyatt Hotels, as their nominee for the governor's election this November. Pritzker advocated for legalizing recreational marijuana as a way to both raise revenue for the state and help right wrongs in the criminal justice system during the primaries. Considering his opponent, Republican incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner, is largely considered one of the most vulnerable sitting governors in America, there's a good chance Illinois could elect a new pro-cannabis governor this fall.
But Pritzker's win was really not a game-changer for marijuana advocates since the top three candidates for the Democratic nomination all supported cannabis legalization. So even if one of Prtizker's opponents had won, there would still be a pro-marijuana candidate in the race.
In the other victory for marijuana advocates, voters in Cook County, the largest county in Illinois that contains the city of Chicago, were asked whether or not they supported legalizing recreational marijuana. 63 percent of Cook County voters on Tuesday said they would support cannabis legalization.
With over 5 million residents, Cook County is by far Illinois' largest county and contains nearly half the state's population. However, it's also a more liberal area than the rest of the state as well, so it cannot be assumed that 63 percent of Illinois voters would support the measure.
There have been proposals by state representatives to include the referendum for the entire state this November, but the measure would still be non-binding, meaning it wouldn't actually change state laws. It would only inform the state's politicians about how much support legalization actually has.
So it looks like Illinois could be a new battleground in the fight for marijuana legalization.