Illinois could be the first state in the Midwest to allow the general public and out-of-state visitors to buy marijuana. Illinois already offers patients with qualifying debilitating diseases medicinal marijuana and these shops would have first dibs on selling recreational cannabis.
Although it would take another year just to begin voting on the proposition, it is estimated that the state could make up to $350 to $750 million a year. With medicinal marijuana, they are generating $5 million a month with 17,000 patients. It’s obvious that passing a bill for recreational use would create more revenue but some are more worried about public safety. The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police says it poses a threat to public health and safety and causes potential enforcement problems because it conflicts with the federal prohibition on marijuana.
Colorado’s “czar” of marijuana, Barbara Brohl, made a trip to Illinois on April 19th to discuss the success her state has had from legalization. With this push, (although she is neither pro or anti-pot) she says that the legal market is eating into the black market and funding drug abuse treatment and prevention and providing a safer product. Peter Bensinger, former administrator of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, cited federal statistics showing an increase of teenage marijuana use by 20% in the first two years of Colorado’s legalization. He also cited a near-doubling of ER visits and increase in traffic deaths related to cannabis. A more recent and larger state study found that teenage use was actually unchanged and Brohl stated that the increase in hospital visits may relate to a willingness to admit use.
The use of cannabis in public and while operating a vehicle would remain illegal in Illinois. Only time will tell to see where the state goes.
Source: Chicago Tribune