Pritzker wants to legalize recreational marijuana 'nearly right away' in Illinois

CHICAGO (Fox 32 News) - Governor-elect JB Pritzker said Wednesday he wants to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois almost immediately after being sworn in next year.

“That’s something we can work on nearly right away,” Pritzker told FOX 32’s Mike Flannery.

He also said he will look at vacating arrest records for those who have been convicted of crimes involving marijuana.

“I definitely want to look at all those arrest records. If we’re going to legalize recreational marijuana, then we shouldn’t have all the, what I think are, challenges in our criminal justice system, you know, still existing, people sitting in prison for things that are currently legal,” Pritzker said.

The governor-elect can legalize recreational marijuana simply by signing legislation passed by lawmakers in the general assembly. Illinois residents do not have to vote to approve the measure.

Pritzker, a billionaire who campaigned on making wealthy taxpayers pay more in income taxes as part of a plan to move Illinois past the political bitterness of the past four years, was elected governor Tuesday over Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner.



Rauner conceded the race less than an hour after polls closed Tuesday night, sounding a clarion call of teamwork often missing from his heated tilts with Democrats in Springfield.

“Now we stand not as Republicans or Democrats, we stand as the people of Illinois,” Rauner said. “Now we move forward together to come up with solutions to create a better future. I encourage all of us to put aside partisan politics, rancor and hard feelings. Now is the time to move forward.”

On Tuesday, the state of Michigan approved a ballot measure that will legalize marijuana similar to alcohol. The measure passed with 56 percent of the vote, with 96 percent of precincts reporting Wednesday morning.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.