Lawmakers discuss legalization of marijuana - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Lawmakers discuss legalization of marijuana

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WSIL -- Members of the Illinois House and Senate met to discuss how a plan to legalize recreational marijuana might affect public safety.

Bills in the Illinois Senate could change the state's laws on the drug, to bring in new tax money.

This makes for the second hearing on regulations for legalized marijuana.

Wednesday, state leaders listened to testimony from different groups from both sides of the argument. 

Some argued legalizing marijuana cripples public safety and leads to addiction, causing many users to heroin, calling marijuana a "gateway" drug.

They say more addictions means an uptick in crime and greater healthcare costs.

Those for regulated legalized adult marijuana believe police and community relations improve when law enforcement moves away from mass arrest scenarios, so they can focus more on violent crimes.

"It really helps to improve the relationships between the police and the community, when they know you are there to deal with crimes of violence and not to be stopping and searching people for possessing marijuana," said Neil Franklin, retired state police officer.

"When you compare the tax dollars that will come in from legalization, when you compare that to the cost to both health care and public safety, there is no comparison," said DuPage County State's Attorney.

Representatives from the Illinois Sheriff's Association also shared concerns of the proposed legalization of marijuana, saying they believe it will endanger public safety.

They cite next to alcohol, marijuana has become the second most abused substance, frequently found in the bodies of drivers in fatal car crashes.

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