Law enforcement calls on lawmakers to do more research before legalizing marijuana

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill.– The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act, or Senate Bill 7, is looking at making recreational weed legal in the state. 

As with any legislation there are people for and against this proposal. 

Democratic State Sen. Heather Steans from Springfield filed the bill earlier this year and Gov. J.B. Pritzker made this promise to voters on the campaign trail that he would legalize recreational marijuana.

“There’s no harmful side effects to it whatsoever so yeah, let’s go for it,” said Shadd Owsley.

Edibles, oils, leaves of green. No matter the form, lawmakers are working on legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois. 

“I don’t see any problem with it,” said Benjamin Pierce. “If the company that you work for has a problem with it and they’ll let you know through the drug testing policies and stuff like that, but for most people, shouldn’t be any kind of real issue, just make money for the state.”

The idea’s not met without opposition though. This week the Illinois Sheriff’s Association and the Association of Chiefs of Police called on lawmakers to do more research before passing legislation to make weed legal.  

“This is focused on a small percentage of the population,” said Tazewell County Sheriff Jeff Lower. “You’re forcing everyone else that has no interest in marijuana… you’re forcing this on them and there’s going to be ramifications for everyone.”

A study released in 2018 by Smart Approaches To Marijuana or SAM shows that from a law enforcement standpoint, since legalizing marijuana, Boulder police reported a 54% increase in public consumption citations. Tazewell County Sheriff Jeff Lower said more research needs to be done before the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act passes.

“I don’t know that a lot of this data has really been taken into account,” said Sheriff Lower. “Now, law enforcement, we’re not lawmakers. We enforce the law. But we feel that it’s our duty to bring it forth when we see something that’s a problem that we really don’t believe is being addressed.”

Supporters say the revenue from the taxes will help the state decrease its billion dollar deficit.

The bill still has to be passed through the senate before heading over to the house.

From there, changes can be made or it could be passed onto and signed by Pritzker.

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