Alton, IL

More Testimony in Effort to Legalize Weed

Story by WBGZ Radio

Expect more hearings on efforts to legalize and tax adult cannabis use in Illinois in an effort lawmakers say is meant to craft the best law possible.


During a joint House and Senate hearing on public safety aspects of proposals to legalize recreational pot, state Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, said if weed is legal for adult use, law enforcement needs more tools to go after bad actors.


“If you’re going to create a regulated system,” Righter said, “if you want to drive down the grey market that we heard about from Colorado that’s 25 percent, you’re going to have to beef the penalties up for people playing outside the system.”


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State Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, said the hearings are meant to hear feedback from stakeholders.


“As we move forward,” Cassidy said, “we want to ensure that we have the opportunity, that we take the opportunity, to learn from the lessons in other states that are already further down this road than we are.”


Current and former law enforcement officers butted heads during the hours-long hearing in Springfield.


Executive Director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership Neill Franklin said in his 34 years as a cop, he’s seen firsthand that prohibition isn’t working and it’s time to legalize marijuana.


“[Legal marijuana] really helps to improve the relationships between the police and the community,” Franklin said, “when they know you are there to deal with crimes of violence and not to be stopping and searching people for possessing marijuana.”


Stephenson County Sheriff David Snyders worried of the negative effects on Illinois roads if marijuana was legalized.


“Numerous reports, studies and public agencies all cite that next to alcohol, marijuana is the second most frequently found substance in the bodies of drivers involved in fatal car crashes,” Snyders said.


Cassidy said more hearings on the economic development and public health aspects of possible legalized weed are expected later this year.


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