[Editor’s Note: The Windy City’s mayor has finally come out of the woodwork asking to legalize weed. Not surprising, politicians have discovered the world doesn’t end when cannabis is legal, and it represents a new revenue stream.
Tax revenue from legal marijuana sales should be earmarked to fund pension programs, the mayor of Chicago said on Wednesday. “Illinois legislators will be taking a serious look next year at legalizing recreational marijuana,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said in a speech to the City Council. “Should they follow that course, a portion of that revenue could go toward strengthening our pension funds and securing the retirement of the workers who depend on them.” The comments stop short of the outright endorsement of legalization previewed by the Chicago Tribune, which reported in a Tuesday article that Emanuel would “call for state lawmakers to legalize marijuana.” In fact, the mayor said during the speech that he believes “recreational marijuana has social costs that must also be considered.”
“And like a casino, revenue would take time to be realized. But if the state goes down that path, those resources can and should be used to further solidify our pensions without, again, asking anything more of Chicago taxpayers in general.” Emanuel’s thoughts on how potential legal cannabis revenue should be spent come roughly a month before Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker (D), who campaigned on ending marijuana prohibition, is set to take office. He has pledged to get to work on legalization “right away.”
A University of Illinois study released last month projected that legalizing cannabis in Illinois would create 24,000 jobs, generate more than $500 million in tax revenue and infuse about $1 billion into the state economy overall by 2020.