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Opposition to legalized recreational marijuana spread among diverse groups

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (HOI) — A group of law enforcement officials, representatives from the Illinois NAACP, Illinois Catholic bishops and other anti-marijuana advocacy groups lobbied against the legalization of recreational marijuana Wednesday.

Illinois Gov. J.B Pritzker included marijuana legalization as a pillar of his campaign and fiscal year 2020 budget plan. He came to an agreement with lawmakers over the weekend on a bill that he said would allow minorities the opportunity to participate in the nascent legal cannabis industry.

United under the umbrella of Virginia-based Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the Illinois legalization opponents made their case in a press conference in the state Capitol.

The Illinois NAACP argues the bill is not equitable to minorities, and would lead to increased discrimination.

Law enforcement officials were concerned about the public safety risks they believe are posed by recreational cannabis legalization, such as more incidents of driving under the influence of cannabis.

“This proposal is a public safety risk that jeopardizes the security of your neighborhoods and safety of our
roadways,” said Jim Kaitschuk, Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association in a statement. “Law enforcement has been clear, Illinois must not repeat the mistakes of other states that have jeopardized public safety, increased traffic fatalities and encouraged criminal and cartel activities to move into neighborhoods.”

State Rep. Marty Moylan (D-Des Plaines), an advocate of slowing down the legalization process, said the bill would lead to situations where people are growing marijuana on their back porches, and selling it on their front porches.

Pritzker’s proposal would allow people to home grow up to five cannabis plants, with some restrictions.

“Home grow has proven to be an invitation to cartels and drug traffickers to move into our neighborhoods and it
has no place in any legalization effort. Inviting and encouraging the development of an unregulated, untaxed and
unsafe drug cultivation industry in our neighborhoods is ridiculous and a threat to public safety,” said Knox County Sheriff David Clague, President of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, said in a statement released Wednesday. “Equally problematic is that home grow makes it impossible for law enforcement to distinguish between legal and illegal products, frustrating and complicating the job of keeping our communities safe.”

Illinois’ six Catholic bishops are also opposed to legalization.

Legalize Illinois, a pro-legalization group, issued the following statement to the press event:

“Today’s distortions from our opponents are just more of the same from an organization that takes money from big tobacco and pretends to have the best interests of Illinoisans in mind. SAM would like to hold back progress on smart, sensible and equitable adult-use cannabis legalization even though the majority of the public is for legalization. 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.”

Watch the full press conference here:

Tim Shelley

Social Media & Digital Content Manager

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