Going to pot: Will Illinois join Colorado and Washington?

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Chicago-area Democrats stirred the pot last week, arguing it’s high time for Illinois to legalize personal adult use of marijuana.

Illinois is not the first state to think about green-lighting marijuana. In 2012, voters in Colorado and Washington approved amendments that make it lawful for adults 21 years and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. The measures also allow authorities to regulate and tax the drug as they would alcohol.

Alaskans will vote on a similar initiative this November, and activists in the District of Columbia and Oregon are currently circulating petitions to put legalization on the ballot in 2014. If the initiative passes in the nation’s capital, it would then be up to the City Council to decide whether to set up a regulated and taxed system for sales

Seven other states are already talking about putting legalization on the ballot in 2016, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

“With polls now consistently showing that a growing majority of the public supports legalizing marijuana, more and more politicians are beginning to embrace this as a mainstream issue they want to be associated with,” Tom Angell, Chairman of the Marijuana Majority, said. “That’s a real change from most of my decade-plus experience working on marijuana reform, during which time so many of the elected officials I encountered acted as if this were a third-rail issue that’s too dangerous to touch.”

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