Illinois police chiefs raise safety concern over proposed marijuana legalization


SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Law enforcement officials from across Illinois are raising safety concerns regarding the proposed legalization of marijuana, citing mistakes made in other states.

The Illinois Sheriff’s Association opposes the legalization, citing what it says are safety and health risks posed by the legislation.

According to an announcement released on Wednesday, studies show that fatal cannabis-related traffic accidents have increased between 31 and 174 percent in states that have legalized marijuana.

The release goes on to say that “home grow” allowances are a loophole which allow foreign cartels and organized crime to move into neighborhoods.

The ISA also says that a mass expungement of criminal records for pot offenders will give a free pass to felons who were convicted of distribuing large quantities of illegal drugs.

The findings concluded that legalization will increase the allocation of tax revenue to law enforcement, to offset the burden of work which they anticipate will come with dealing with drug related crimes.

“We have been providing data and factual information about the serious risks involved with legalizing recreational marijuana, but most of the major objections we raised have been ignored,” said Chief Steven Stelter of Westchester, President of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. “The process needs to slow down so that we can truly learn from the mistakes made in other states.”

Governor J.B. Pritzker and key lawmakers announced Saturday that they have agreed on a legal framework to introduce recreational marijuana sales in Illinois by a target date of January 1st, 2020.

The measure would allow adults 21 and over to legally purchase the drug from licensed dispensaries.

Under the measure, an adult Illinois resident would be able to legally possess 30 grams of cannabis flower, 5 grams of cannibas concentrate, 500 milligrams of THS in a cannabis-infused produce, of less than 30 grams of raw marijuana grown by an eligible resident.

Homeowners would be able to grow up to five plants so long as they own the home, have permission from the landlord, and keep the plants in a separately locked room or out of the view of children and teens.

The bill proposes several tax rates, depending on the amount of THC in the product, with a 10 percent tax on THC levels below 35 percent, and a 25 percent tax on THC levels above 35 percent.

Growers will be taxed 7 percent on gross reciepts from all sales.

Employers can adopt reasonable policies concerning drug testing, smoking, consumption, storage or use of cannabis in the workplace.

The bill would also allow for expunging the criminal records of people convicted of minor cannabis infractions, and would allocate state funds from the sale of marijuana to communities that have suffered from “discriminatory drug policies.”

Licenses would be approved in waves, beginning with current medical cannabis license holders.

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