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Candidates for Illinois governor are split over marijuana legalization despite popular support

In supporting marijuana legalization, Illinois gubernatorial challenger J.B. Pritzker could usher in a change that affects everything from criminal justice to public health to the economy if he’s elected.

In coming out against recreational use of cannabis, incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner may appeal to his base, while finding himself on the less popular side of the issue.

With polls indicating that the Democratic Pritzker is favored — and other surveys suggesting wide support for adopting a recreational pot law — his election could put Illinois on the fast track to becoming one of the first Midwestern states to legalize cannabis.

The Republican Rauner, by contrast, has said before that he’s “very much opposed” to legal marijuana.

His campaign elaborated this week, issuing a statement that legalization “is a much newer and more complex issue that should not be considered by the state of Illinois until all possible positive and negative effects are understood.”

The challenger says legal cannabis could generate an estimated $350 million to $700 million in annual taxes, echoing what sponsors have touted about a pending legalization bill. [Read more at Chicago Tribune]

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