Two marijuana bills are now being considered in the Illinois State Senate and Illinois House.
The Cannabis Penalties Bill, HB 218, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) and co-sponsored by Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana/Champaign) and Rep. Will Guzzardi (D-Chicago), would replace criminal penalties with a $100 fine. The bill would eliminate the possibility of arrest and jail time with offenders caught possessing up to 30 grams of marijuana issued a $100 “Uniform Cannabis Ticket” and charged with a petty offense. Mandatory drug rehabilitation classes are not included with the reduced sentences.
SB 735 was introduced in the State Senate by Michael Noland (D-22). The Cannabis-Possession Adults bill would legalize the possession by a person 21 years of age or older of cannabis in an amount not to exceed 30 grams as well as permit the production and possession of not more than five cannabis sativa plants. This would make Illinois the fifth state to legalize marijuana.
Although public opinion favors legalizing marijuana, recent findings by the health community warn about increased risks of the drug once considered “harmless.” As the most widely used illicit drug, chronic marijuana usage has been associated with mental illness and can affect brain development in young adults. One of six children who use marijuana are likely to become addicted and also use heroin or other potent substances.
Legalization can be expected to increase marijuana consumption by four to six times. States that have legalized marijuana show an increase in traffic accidents by marijuana users as well as lethal overdoses of the substance. Marijuana contains 50 - 70 percent more cancer-causing substances than tobacco smoke. Marijuana of today is not the same drug it was in the 1960s. The levels of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can be five times stronger.
Legalizing 30 grams of marijuana and five cannabis plants, appears to be harmless. However, a statistic revealed by the Illinois Family Institute states: Thirty grams of marijuana make 75 joints. The street value of one gram is $10. Five plants can produce 1,120 grams of marijuana, enough to make 2,800 joints and the street value is approximately $11,200.
Is this the legacy Illinois wants for its future generations?
Contact your State Representative and State Senator. Tell them to vote “NO” on HB 218 and SB 735. Legislator information can be found at www.illinois.gov.
Illinois director for Concerned Women for America