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There are several current and emerging markets in Illinois for cannabis-related products. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, farmers are gearing up to grow industrial hemp, and lawmakers could consider a measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Whether or not recreational use becomes legal, the business of cannabis is already established in the Land of Lincoln and our reports are intended to bring you information related to these efforts."State of Cannabis" is a collaborative effort among public radio stations across Illinois.Special thanks to participating stations in reporting and editing:Illinois Newsroom, NPR Illinois, Tri-States Public Radio, WBEZ, WCBU, WDCB, WGLT, WILL, WNIJ, WSIU, WVIK-Reporter Roundtable-- Why are we doing this series now? Features WGLT's Ryan Denham, WSIU/Illinois Newsroom's Steph Whiteside, WNIJ's Sarah Jesmer -From Tri States Public Radio in Macomb, Rich Egger visited a medical marijuana cultivation facility in west central Illinois to get their perspective.-From NPR Illinois in Springfield, Jaclyn Driscoll has been closely covering the issue. She sat down with Sean Crawford to give us an update on the legislative timeline of recreational marijuana.-When Illinois issued the first licenses for medical marijuana businesses in 2015, almost all the recipients were white. We look at what a more racially diverse marketplace might look like if the state legalizes recreational use. From WBEZ in Chicago, Susie An reports.-Existing rules around the Illinois medical cannabis program could make the rollout for recreational use a less daunting task. But there are plenty of unanswered questions at the federal level which could complicate the process. From WNIJ in DeKalb, Chase Cavanaugh reports.-Northwestern Illinois’ Stephenson County is one area where changes in the status of cannabis are being embraced. The people doing it are not necessarily the ones you’d expect. From WNIJ in DeKalb, Guy Stephens has more.-From WSIU and Illinois Newsroom in Carbondale, Steph Whiteside explains how some patients are considering marijuana as an alternative to opioids.-From WCBU in Peoria, Tanya Koonce brings us the view from Peoria with a doctor who talks abouthow health providers are navigating conversations with patients who are considering marijuana use.-In today’s legal market, there’s more than just your typical joint if you want to get high. There are cookies, gummies, weed-infused drinks and more... but how might these different products affect you? From NPR Illinois in Springfield, reporter Jaclyn Driscoll has more. (Audio available Wednesday 5/01)-The debate over legalization touches on so many thorny issues -- criminal justice reform, health care, and balancing a state budget coated in red ink. But it's also an economic issue. From WGLT in Bloomington/Normal, Ryan Denham visits a small town in central Illinois where medical marijuana has brought new jobs, new tax revenue, and a hope for more.-Champaign County State’s Attorney Julia Rietz says she’s concerned about how legalization could impact the juveniles she works with on a daily basis. She’s also concerned about how the state will address cannabis impaired driving. Illinois Public Media’s Lee Gaines recently interviewed Rietz. (Audio available Thursday 5/02)-Susan Stephens with WNIJ in DeKalb reports, attitudes are changing about cannabis use. (Audio available Thursday 5/02)-With conversations about legalizing recreational marijuana, you also may have heard about C-B-D. This is a very different hemp product and it’s completely legal. Sarah Jesmer with WNIJ in DeKalb reports, those in the CBD market are trying to prepare for possible changes on the horizon. (Audio available Friday 5/03)-Illinois Governor J.B.Pritzker wants legalize recreational marijuana to provide an economic boost for the state. At Rock Island’s Augustana College, students have different reasoning behind their perspective. Reporter Natalie Spahn from WVIK in Rock Island found out, many identify themselves in the "pro" category. (Audio available Friday 5/03)-Reporter Roundtable #2 There may be more questions than answers as state leaders consider their next step. (Audio available Friday 5/03) Features WGLT's Ryan Denham, WSIU/Illinois Newsroom's Steph Whiteside, WNIJ's Sarah Jesmer

Update: Where Cannabis Legislation Stands

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a lead sponsor on a proposal to legalize cannabis in Illinois, says home grow has been the most contentious topic in the working group meetings.
Office of Rep. Kelly Cassidy
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State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, a lead sponsor on a proposal to legalize cannabis in Illinois, says home grow has been the most contentious topic in the working group meetings.

This week, public radio station across Illinois are tackling a once taboo topic.

There are several current and emerging markets for cannabis-related products. Medical marijuana is already legal in the state, farmers are gearing up to grow industrial hemp, and lawmakers could consider a measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this year. Whether or not recreational use is legalized, the business of cannabis is already established in the Land of Lincoln, and our reports are intended to bring you information related to these efforts.

This story is part of a weeklong series from Illinois public radio stations focusing on the potential impact of marijuana legalization.
This story is part of a weeklong series from Illinois public radio stations focusing on the potential impact of marijuana legalization.

The idea of a legal recreational program looks very likely for Illinois especially with Gov. J.B Pritzker already allocating funds into next year's budget from licensing fees. Lawmakers are completing a series of behind-closed-doors meetings, but bill language has not been filed.

Reporter Jaclyn Driscoll sat down with lead sponsor state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) to get an update.Listen to the story.

Reporter: Recreational cannabis is something you've been talking about for years, but it seems to be heating up this session especially. How have negotiations been going? 

Cassidy: The discussions have been great. Very productive, folks are thoughtful and offering ideas, criticism, suggestions. I've felt really good about it. In particular, it has validated our approach to this from the start. This long deliberate process that Sen. Steans and I have embarked on. There weren't any curveballs that we didn't know were out there. It makes me feel good about the conversations we've had leading up to this to get us ready for this time.

Reporter: Last time we spoke, you didn't have details on the tax dollars. Are there any details you can share now with how it will be taxed or where the tax money may go? 

Cassidy: Sure. Again, we don't have a final product yet. Although we anticipate that we're going to get there pretty soon. There is general understanding of that concept, that if you put the money first you end up with less money and a worse policy. So, we've been walking through, sort of, what other states have done, how they've done it, what levels they've had, the states that have had to go back and revisit their tax structures. So, now we're really in the place of figuring out where those levers are and how it will be constructed. And, lots of conversation about where the money is going to go and how it will be distributed. As we anticipated and to nobody's surprise, ever, those conversations about where the money's going to go have been some of the most popular working group meetings. Again, no curveballs. We've had a pretty thorough discussion up to this point so we get what some of the local government issues are, we get what some of the health community issues and how we can navigate that to make sure we get something that works for everybody. 

Reporter: If or when a recreational cannabis bill does pass, what is it going to look like in Illinois?

Cassidy: Ideally, it'll look like the state of Illinois. There will be access available to folks all across the state so we don't have those challenges that we've seen in other places of either undue concentration or complete lack of access. Right now, we know that the 55 operating dispensaries will not be enough on day one to meet demands, so we're working to address that and making sure that they don't end up all concentrated in one area. We're examining the best path to regulate production so that we don't have overproduction, like you've seen in states like Oregon and Washington that are struggling with, sort of, a gray market emerging of product leaking out into the street markets there and other states. But, also that we don't have undersupply so patients don't have access to the medicine they need. 

Reporter: Home grow. That's a big topic, for law enforcement especially. But, it's also important for medical patients across the state with easier access. How are you navigating that? 

Cassidy: That has been some of the more challenging conversations. Law enforcement has latched onto this as the thing that they're so deeply concerned about. They raise a parade of horribles that will happen and I keep going back to this issue, with any "this terrible thing will happen" kind of scenario that people play out. The reality here is we know that there are north of 750,000 people who regularly use this product in the state of Illinois today. They buy it on the street market, they are funding cartels and street gangs, they are getting a product that isn't tested, that isn't regulated, that isn't cleared in any way. We're pretending it's not happening. People are growing their own now. It's not going to change; usage rates don't change in states that legalize. So the challenge around home grow is another example of that. This isn't really going to change the way the world is operating today. 

Reporter: I understand this is a massive piece of legislation, but if there was one goal in passing recreational cannabis, what is it? 

Cassidy: I've said this before. I want to pass the gold standard for cannabis legislation that the rest of the country can follow. That means a model that taxes at a level that allows the industry to grow, that allows patients and users access in a way that gets them into the legal markets, that creates an industry and allows an industry to grow that looks like the state of Illinois, that looks like communties we come from. 

Reporter: Since we did see Gov. Pritzker include some funding in next year's budget, do you feel additional pressure to get it passed? 

Cassidy: No, I feel like this is the path we've been on and we've walked this path pretty calmly. We're going to try to finish that way too. 

Copyright 2019 NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

Jaclyn has an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a BS in History form Monmouth College. Prior to reporting, Jaclyn was a social science teacher and department chair at Greenfield High School. Previously, Jaclyn reported for WICS Newschannel 20 where she covered a variety of assignments including courts, politics, and breaking news. She also reported at Siouxland News in Sioux City Iowa, the shared CBS/Fox television newsroom. Her internships included WGN and Comcast SportsNet in Chicago.