Election season in full swing in Illinois. This Thursday marks a major milestone for candidates hoping to become the next Governor of Illinois, with the first of three publicly broadcasted debates scheduled.
The first debate will be hosted in the city of Chicago and is set to feature current Gov. of Illinois Bruce Rauner, Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker, Libertarian Kash Jackson, and Conservative Sam McCann.
Rauner and Pritzker are expected to participate in all three scheduled debates, but no official statement has been released on whether Jackson and McCann will be joining them for rounds two and three, which are scheduled to take place on the 3rd and 11th of October.
Key-topics of debate will likely cover funding for healthcare, taxes, and support for local union groups, as well as candidates proposed plans to spur future job growth.
But with the recent expansion of the Illinois Medical Cannabis Program, expect candidates to share their ideas and thoughts surrounding legalization and the future of cannabis in Illinois.
Taking a closer look: Pritzker and Jackson push for legalization
Democratic challenger J.B. Pritzker and Libertarian Kash Jackson are the two candidates who are the most outwardly-spoken proponents of legalization.
A large point of front-runner J.B. Pritzker’s platform is dedicated to legalizing cannabis for adult-use, with a strong emphasis on criminal justice reform. Pritzker often cites the disproportional statistics in cannabis convictions, specifically referencing the negative impact the War on Drugs has left on minority-based communities.
If elected, Pritzker has promised to “reinvest in communities hit hardest by the War on Drugs” by intentionally including black entrepreneurs in the planning and licensing of new dispensaries.
Kash Jackson, a US Navy veteran and libertarian, published a recent video referencing legalization of marijuana. Jackson also advocates for legalizing home-grow, which is currently not allowed under the Illinois medical cannabis law.
In politics, there are no guarantees – but if either of these two candidates win office, the chances for cannabis reform in the Prairie State significantly increase.
Rauner: slowly coming around
Incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner has been cautious when it comes to the legalization of cannabis.
In 2017, Rauner said that it ‘would be a mistake’ to legalize marijuana, claiming that not enough research suggests an adult-use program would be economically beneficial for the state.
“You know there’s a massive, human experiment going on in Colorado, and California, other places. We should see how that’s impacted lives and addiction and hurt young people before we make any decision about it here,” said Rauner in an interview with WSIL.
The Republican from Deerfield, Illinois recently signed into law Ashley’s Law and the Alternative to Opioids Act – two bills that received a wave of bipartisan support as the state continually looks for new ways to expand the medical cannabis program and simultaneously battle the opioid crisis. However, Rauner has stated no official plans to expand the current medical cannabis program that is set to sunset on July 1, 2020.
At a time when more Americans support legalization than ever before, it’s possible that the Republican could change his ways as he adapts to voter’s wants and needs.
Election Day: less than 50 days away
Voters in Illinois will have the opportunity to cast their vote for the states next Governor on November 6th.
Voting is one of the most important safe-guards of democracy, so be sure to exercise your civic duty and VOTE this November.