News Local/State

Unpacking Pritzker’s Tax Proposals: Legal Cannabis


Governor J.B. Pritzker wants to create a host of new taxes to help balance Illinois’ budget – on everything from e-cigarettes to medical insurance companies. 

NPR Illinois reporters have been breaking down those revenue-generating ideas. Today we're looking at a potential tax on recreational marijuana.

(See previous stories on taxing managed care organizationsgamblingvaping and tobaccothe retailer's discount, and a possible tax on shopping bags.)

Pritzker said he’s counting on $170 million dollars from recreational cannabis in next year’s budget. That amount only accounts for licensing fees from businesses looking to get into the industry. According to Pritzker's budget staff, the fee would be around $100 thousand dollars each.

Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who has been working on legalizing the drug for years, said she is not sure how Pritzker came to that figure. She’s not even sure how many licenses will be accepted yet.

“That’s still an ongoing conversation about what’s the best way to ramp it up in a way that allows more competition, but doesn’t put us into a situation of overproduction,” she said. 

While nearly every detail of the legislation is still being negotiated, results from a recent demand study are helping stakeholders iron out some of them. 

“Using population data, trends from other states, we’ve been able to determine approximately how many people will seek access and how much product they’ll want to buy,” she said. 

The clock is ticking for lawmakers to pass a bill before the end of May, but they say they are still hopeful.