Despite State Sen. Dale Righter (R-Mattoon) raising several concerns about public safety, social implications, and the negative message it sends to our youth, the Senate passed legislation May 21 that would decriminalize some amounts of marijuana.
“This legislation is concerning on many levels,” Righter said. “It will prevent some people who need drug treatment from receiving that treatment, it strips judges of being able to use their discretion to help people in many cases, and it allows an instructor who is training someone how to drive and who only has a driver’s permit, to have marijuana in their system. The bottom line, it sends the wrong message.”
House Bill 218 would eliminate any criminal penalties or treatment requirements for persons convicted of possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis.
“Our state just recently approved our medical marijuana program, which has several questions with no answers and no study about its negative implications,” Sen. Righter said. “Let’s take some time to get some answers.”
Righter also points to law enforcement having serious concerns about the impact of a provision in the legislation that establishes THC levels – the chemical responsible for marijuana’s psychological effects – that are allowable while driving.
“I don’t believe that someone who shows every indication of being addicted to drugs is best dealt with by assessing a fine, and then pretending that individual doesn’t have a problem that could be treated,” Righter said. “Fifteen grams of marijuana can make over 35 joints. You combine that with the fact the records of these offenses would be automatically expunged, and you have a recipe for a social and public safety disaster.”
The Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, Illinois Association of Court Clerks, Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, Illinois County Treasurers’ Association, and Illinois Family Institute all oppose the legislation.