Holds office State House District 47
Candidate in race for State House District 47
"This is a question that merits further exploration. I will not say that I outright oppose legalization, nor will I unequivocally state I am for it. While many point to the potential revenue stream that legalization would create through licensing and sales tax, there also needs to be an examination of the societal costs that accompany such a decision.
In principle, what people do in their own homes is their business. The problem is when private use has the practical effect of imposing costs on others entirely uninvolved with that use.
For example, in Colorado, where legalization took effect in 2014, accident rates have increased dramatically. Not only have accidents gone up; per the statistical reporting of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatality Analysis Reporting System, the percentage of drivers involved in fatal crashes with potent levels of cannabis in their system has exploded. Since 2013, the number of drivers in cannabis impaired fatal crashes has risen 145%. For perspective, the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes involving alcohol went up 17% over that same time period. This is shocking statistical evidence that suggests a grave public safety problem with smoking and driving. What has exacerbated our ability to estimate impacts in Illinois is that since 2016 when Illinois changed its cannabis impairment laws related to driving under the influence from the previous standard of a qualitative analysis to a quantitative analysis of an alleged offender’s bodily fluid, the crime labs run by the Illinois State Police have not been able to secure the equipment and/or training to perform the requisite quantitative sample testing.
As another example, I have frequently heard complaints from employers that they have jobs going unfulfilled in the trucking, heavy equipment operator and other industries because candidates cannot pass a drug test. From a liability perspective, these employers cannot take the risk of hiring candidates with a drug history; yet that takes middle class jobs off the table for many. Who should bear the cost of that?
As another example, the Journal of Addiction Medicine [5(1):1-8, March 2011] reviewed the scientific literature associated with both acute and chronic marijuana use, and its adverse impact on executive functioning. Are we prepared to say that no-one who has voluntarily used marijuana recreationally is eligible for disability or other medical benefits as a consequence of such use?
As with anything, we need to make judgments relating to risk/reward benefits based on quality data and historical experience. To date, we lack that; and thus the Legislature is not in a good position to confirm that the private benefits will outweigh the increased risks and costs that the public will bear from this discretionary use." (Chicago Sun Times, 10/20/18)
210-N Stratton Office Building
Springfield, IL 62706