Source – https://www.thetelegraph.com/news/article/Marijuana-legalization-effects-pondered-by-13514513.php
EDWARDSVILLE — The Madison County Board’s Health Department Committee on Friday dabbled in discussing what members felt would be the effects of legalization of marijuana in Illinois.
In their first meeting of 2019, the Health Department Committee reviewed a document called “Protecting Public Health and Promoting Equity in Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization in Illinois,” which was put together by Illinois Public Health Institute.
The final paragraph of the summary of the document reads, “Given the numerous concerns related to public health and safety published by states with legalization and commercialization policies, combined with opposition form major professional societies across medicine, behavioral health, addiction, road safety, law, and law enforcement, IPHI urges caution in determining whether to legalize or commercialize adult use marijuana in Illinois at this time.”
Review of the document sparked conversation and questions about what legalization would mean for those under the age of 21, or the age that would be required for purchasing legal marijuana.
“As a member of this health board, I’m really concerned with the mental health of youth and how it’s affected by marijuana,” Philip Chapman, R-Highland, said. “I’m not willing to sell our youth into addiction or slavery to a drug because our state need revenue.”
According to a study from the Illinois Economic Policy Institute, Illinois would generate $525 million in new tax revenues, including $505 million for the state and $20 million for local government if the state were to legalize.
“My concern is the gummy bears kids, the edibles, kids will see that, and they won’t know that it’s harmful and if it’s readily available for adults, then it’s going to get into the wrong hands,” said Chrissy Dutton, R-Bethalto.
According to information from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, early exposure to cannabinoids in adolescent mice decreases the re-activity of brain dopamine reward centers later in adulthood.
This could help explain the increased vulnerability for addition to other substances later in life for people who begin using marijuana at an early age, hence why some think of marijuana as a “gateway drug.”
After about twenty minutes of back and forth discussion, conversations fizzled out and the meeting went back to their agenda.
While the Madison County Board Health Department would not have direct input on policy in regards to marijuana legalization, the job of the committee is to “provide liaison between the Madison County Board and other state and local government entities and other groups relative to issues concerning public health.”
Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker campaigned on the legalization of marijuana and its corresponding tax revenue boost. Democratic Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has also stated that he is on board with legalization and would support measures to legalize. Because of these factors and more, in recent article by Forbes, Illinois was declared one of the states most likely to legalize marijuana in 2019.
The Illinois General Assembly begins its session on Wednesday, Jan. 9.