“Should Illinois Legalize Recreational Marijuana?” (Illinois Family Spotlight #081)

Monte Larrick sits down with Kathy Valente, the Director of Operations at Illinois Family Institute, and Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger to discuss the Cook County referendum on recreational marijuana, and marijuana legalization in Illinois. Chief Kruger also is the president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, who opposes the legalization of marijuana.

Voters in Cook County have an advisory referendum on the primary ballot in March asking them to give weigh in on whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana. Cook has 40% of the state’s population, so a vote to legalize there could have a big influence on whether legislators will move legislation. There has been discussion, as well, about having a similar advisory referendum on the statewide ballot.

Kathy Valente and James Kruger both agree that the desire for the tax revenues is not taking into consideration the increased costs to both health and public safety. In Colorado, a state where recreational marijuana is legal, the revenues have amounted only to 8/10ths of 1 percent of the state’s budget.

Among the increased costs to police departments includes not only a rise in traffic accidents, but also potentially expensive equipment to measure impairment levels. Unlike with alcohol, currently there is no easy way to ascertain just how impaired a driver is who has been involved in an altercation.

The experience in Colorado also shows that usage among children also increases when marijuana is legalized, and up to 62 percent of school expulsions are now related to the underage use of cannabis.

As parents have had to deal with underage drinking, they will now have to step up their efforts regarding children having access to marijuana. Today’s marijuana is far more potent than it was twenty-five years ago. Back then, THC levels were roughly 2-3 percent. Today, especially with marijuana-laced candy or brownies, the potency can range between 20 and 90 percent.

"Should Illinois Legalize Recreational Marijuana?" (Illinois Family Spotlight #081)