* The Decatur Herald & Review interviewed some local legislators after the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute released a poll showing 66 percent of Illinoisans support legalizing marijuana…
State Rep. Bill Mitchell, R-Forsyth, described himself as “old-fashioned” with his opposition to legalization, feeling it acts as a gateway drug to harder, illegal substances.
“I think it raises more problems than it could possibly answer,” he said. “With legalization, I don’t agree with it at all.”
However, Mitchell did say he would be open to some decriminalization in relation to marijuana.
State Sen. Dale Righter, R-Mattoon, expressed similar sentiments about marijuana being a gateway drug, saying that legalization would increase the rate of homelessness and poverty as well as put a financial strain on social services who help people with addiction.
“You’re going to have ill effects with legalization, especially if Illinois is the only Midwestern state to do this,” Righter said.
State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, said in an unrelated conference call Monday morning that he has not yet taken a stance on the matter, focusing most of his attention on school funding and a “grand bargain” budget bill. He did say he hopes the proposed plan starts a dialogue among lawmakers about legalization and that more information comes out in the coming months during hearings.
Hey, if we do become the only Midwestern state to legalize weed, the tourism potential would be pretty darned strong.
And why would legalized marijuana increase homelessness? There are plenty of homeless alcoholics, so should we ban their hugely addictive substance? Also, plenty of highly productive folks use marijuana. That argument is a total red herring. And a gateway drug? Dude, the 1980s called, it want its propaganda back. Also, you might as well ban beer, because it’s often a “gateway drug” to whiskey.
I mean, heck, even the curmudgeons at the Champaign News-Gazette grudgingly admitted this week that times have changed…
But it seems obvious that more and more people expect less bad to result from law enforcement’s expansive and hugely expensive efforts to reduce consumption of a product in wide demand.
…Adding… As mentioned in comments, there are some very real gateway drugs that lead to the abuse of some truly dangerous substances, so maybe focus on those?…
The so-called “Heroin Highway” from Chicago to Kane County is thriving, Kane County Sheriff’s Department officials said in Aurora.
“We are getting killed by heroin,” Kane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Feiza said at a forum in Aurora, calling the current situation a crisis.
Dealers from primarily Chicago’s West Side are bringing heroin into the Aurora area with a higher potency than before, which is causing more overdose deaths throughout the county, he said. […]
Thefts, burglaries and other crimes are up in Kane County and 99 percent of the time the crimes are associated with addiction, [Kane County Sheriff’s Sgt. Aaron Feiza] said.
He estimates 95 percent of heroin addicts he’s dealt with started using prescription drugs first. Prescription drugs often are more expensive - one pill can cost between $70 and $80, he said. Heroin becomes a cheaper alternative, Feiza said. A bag of heroin costs $10 or $15 for the same kind of high, he said.
…Adding More… Crain’s…
Private insurance claims related to opioid abuse and dependence diagnoses increased 329 percent in Illinois between 2007 and 2014, according to data from Fair Health, a New York-based nonprofit that seeks to increase transparency in health care costs.
In Chicago alone, such claims increased 382 percent over the seven-year period.
Robin Gelburd, president of Fair Health—which analyzed more than 23 billion claims from more than 150 million privately insured Americans—says that while Chicago’s claims increased at a greater rate than the state’s, the city’s proportion of opioid claims remains smaller than that of the rest of Illinois, based on population.
Citing U.S. Census data from last year, she says Chicago represents 21 percent of Illinois’ overall population but only 14 percent of opioid-related diagnoses.
* Will there be problems with legalization? Of course there will be. But this failed national war on pot is hurting far more lives than the actual use of the product.
Also, Sen. Manar, way to stick your neck out, bud.
* Meanwhile, you’ll recall that I asked the Democratic gubernatorial candidates this week about their own position on the topic. I heard back from Kurt Summers last night…
I support the legalization of marijuana if the goals of the legislation are to take power away from gangs and reduce drug-related violence. The impact of the legislation should be to divert resources from arresting and prosecuting low-level, non-violent offenders to focus on those who seek to harm others. Our communities have been under siege for too long for this to be passed without support from community leaders and law enforcement officials. This isn’t just a criminal justice issue, it’s a public health issue, and we must commit the proper resources to address these issues responsibly.
Chicago Treasurer Kurt Summers is continuing his flirtation with a run for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018, sending an email to supporters explaining why he’s weighing a bid and alerting them to an upcoming fundraiser.
In the Wednesday night email, titled “New Leadership in Illinois,” Summers says he’s been meeting with community leaders, union workers, business owners and others about a possible run and concluded that “Illinois needs someone who will fix our budget deficit, create jobs, improve education and fight for working people day-in and day-out.”