New bill sparks new Illinois cannabis debate
Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the introduction of a bill that would legalize marijuana in Illinois for adults 21 and older, but plenty of critics believe it would be a dangerously wrong turn for the state.
Some of them believe that legalizing the use of recreational marijuana will lead to a sharp increase in the number of motorists driving impaired, according to an earlier story in Prairie State Wire. The story cited where fatal accidents shot up at an alarming rate in Colorado during a period when legal adult use began in late 2012 and noted that from 2013 to 2015 traffic fatalities rose 40 percent.
Dr. Jeffrey Leef noted in Prairie State Wire that even small amounts of marijuana would increase vehicle accidents.
"What these studies show is the known unknowns of recreational marijuana use are great and such a knowledge gap could well lead to horrific health consequences to marijuana smokers and a new, more insidious public health crisis, with its attendant societal and financial costs," Leff wrote.
Pritzker announced the legislation at a press conference on May 4.
"We’re taking a major step forward to legalize adult use of cannabis," Pritzker said. "We’re going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation. We have incorporated the best practices from other states that have legalized cannabis and we want to make sure Illinois is a leader in equity."
Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) first introduced the bill more than two years ago.
"Prohibition simply does not work," Steans said. "Too often we have unsafe products and teens report easy access to cannabis products."
Steans also said the bill will standardize limits on edibles to ensure products will not be marketed to youth.
"We have a three-prong approach to advancing equity in the bill: expunging records, ensuring diversity in the industry and dedicating a portion of revenue to communities hurt by the war on drugs," Steans said.
It's time to bring justice to communities and create opportunities. I am proud to be part of this effort."