On Friday, May 31st, the last scheduled day of the Illinois General Assembly’s spring session, the House approved a bill to legalize recreational cannabis which had been passed by the state Senate on Wednesday. With Governor J.B. Pritzker’s support, this bill is officially one signature away from making Illinois the 11th state in the country to legalize marijuana for adult use.
While the bill was approved in the House by a bipartisan vote of 66-47, Illinois General Assembly Representative Dan Ugaste of the 65th District made it very clear that he thinks Illinois should wait before legalizing marijuana in the Prarie State.
Ugaste Says Cannabis is Bad for Communities
“I’ve heard today about the need to expunge criminal records and for people to have second chances. I’ve heard about the need for jobs in communities, about need for revenue in certain communities and entrepreneurial opportunities in those communities,” noted Rep. Ugaste. “Those are all laudable goals and I believe goals we can all support in this chamber. However, I do not believe this bill is the way to achieve those goals.”
What Rep. Ugaste must be forgetting is how much cannabis prohibition has destroyed many families and communities in Illinois. “Prohibition hasn’t built communities. In fact, it has destroyed them,” commented Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, who worked with Chicago Democratic Sen. Heather Steans for more than two years to craft the bill. “It is time to hit the reset button on the war on drugs.”
Illinois’ Mental Health Problems
Rep Ugaste went on to say that “It’s not a reason to vote to legalize a drug that we know is going to cause some problems in our community.” He then made the wrongful assumption that the reason marijuana tax money will be set aside for mental health initiatives is to treat the problems that will stem from cannabis consumption.
Rather, the estimated millions of dollars per year that will flood into mental health initiatives in Illinois will be helping to treat the 3.21% of the state’s 12.9 million person population that already lives with serious mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression.
As this bill awaits the Governor’s signature, we’ll be combing through the other various comments that were made yesterday.
The bill is expected to kick in on January 1st of 2020 and will allow Illinois residents age 21 and older to legally possess 30 grams of marijuana, 5 grams of concentrate or 500 milligrams worth of THC-infused product. In the meantime, be sure to subscribe to updates here so you never miss an important development.
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