Legal marijuana opponents express concerns over safety, commercialization – The State Journal-Register
Opponents of marijuana legalization on Wednesday voiced concerns about safety and the commercialization of the drug if it were to become legal to use in Illinois.
State Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, said Senate Bill 7, the marijuana legalization bill, is about “profits over people.”
“The more people that get addicted, the more money they make,” he said at a Statehouse news conference headed by the anti-legalization group Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
He characterized the debate over legalization as a “David versus Goliath” fight.
“We’re not the big guys, we’re not the ones with all the money,” he said. “All we’re doing here is protecting our children.”
Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp said there’s “nothing good” about legalizing marijuana.
“If we legalize marijuana, it’s going to be really hard for me to protect my kids, my grandkids, my wife from people who are high on marijuana driving their vehicles,” he said. “My job is to protect and serve. I’m trying to protect everyone in the state of Illinois from having this bill passed.”
Senate Bill 7, which was announced on Saturday and introduced in the General Assembly on Monday, would allow adults 21 and over to legally purchase marijuana for recreational use from licensed dispensaries. In addition, it would expunge the records of those with minor violations of the Cannabis Control Act.
Proponents of the bill say the legislation prioritizes social justice and equity.
At a press conference announcing the new legislation last weekend, Gov. J.B. Pritzker said legalizing marijuana rights some “historic wrongs.”
During the same event, Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton said the bill provides resources and second chance to communities that have been harmed by the war on drugs.
Teresa Haley, president of the Illinois NAACP, said Wednesday the bill will cause greater disparities to black and brown communities.
“Unemployment rates are going to go up,” she said. “We already have problems with mental health care and other health care issues in our community.”
Andy Duran, executive director of the Chicago-based organization Linking Efforts Against Drugs, said making marijuana legal would create a “commercialized industry” for “a harmful, addictive drug.”
Though he acknowledged people use marijuana for health reasons, he said the state has already legalized marijuana for a wide variety of medical industry.
“Make no mistake, this is not a bill about public health,” Duran said. “This is not a bill about social justice. This is a bill about money.”
“Knowing what we know now, if we were to stand here right now and try to legalize tobacco or alcohol, would we do that?” he added. “Would we repeat that? This is something we cannot undo. It’s a bell we cannot unring.”
In a statement, Legalize Illinois, a coalition that supports the legalization of cannabis, said the arguments made during Wednesday’s press conference were “distortions,” calling them more of the same.
“(Smart Approaches to Marijuana) would like to hold back progress on smart, sensible and equitable adult-use cannabis legalization even though the majority of the public supports legalization,” they wrote. “Their false claims do not have the best interests of the public in mind. The truth is, the legislation that was just introduced is the most responsible and inclusive bill in the nation, developed by peer-reviewed research and input from stakeholders to create the most equitable and regulated industry in the nation.”
This article originally appeared here in https://www.sj-r.com/news/20190508/legal-marijuana-opponents-express-concerns-over-safety-commercialization