Cook County officials put an official feeler out in the form of a ballot referendum, looking to see how its voting residents feel about the state legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and learned Tuesday that over two-thirds think it should be done.
“Shall the State of Illinois legalize the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products for recreational use by adults 21 and older subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?” the referendum read.
By 9 p.m. on primary election day, “yes” votes were leading the non-binding referendum tally with 63 percent of the vote, compared to 37 percent “no” votes, according to unofficial election results from the Cook County clerk’s office.
Conversations with voters and law enforcement earlier in the day illustrated the different facets of the debate.
In Evanston, police Chief Richard Eddington said he doesn’t support legalizing marijuana, but not necessarily for criminal reasons.
“My opposition is more medical than anything else,” Eddington said.
He pointed to research from Northwestern University and elsewhere and noted that “the impact of chronic marijuana use on IQ scores, I think, is a relevant part of this discussion that is getting short shrift.”
In Lincolnwood, voter Charles Levy said he stopped by Village Hall to cast his ballot for J.B. Pritzker in the Democratic race for for Illinois governor.
As for marijuana, “That was a hard one,” Levy said. “I think it might pass. I’m not sure the wisdom of it though.”
Raghad Hashlamoun and Nashra Mohammed served as poll workers there and said they were enjoying what was their first experience doing it. They also reflected on legalizing marijuana.
“I’m all for it to be honest,” said Hashlamoun. “I don’t see a problem with it because I think it would make the economy better.”