Here is a list of reasons in support of my position:
1. Marijuana is less harmful to the body than alcohol, nicotine/cigarettes, and other similar controlled substances, yet the federal government classifies it with heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth.
2. Prescriptive pharmaceuticals are far more damaging to body systems than marijuana. Any pill swallowed is hard on your liver let alone all the other side effects you hear from TV ads for medications…I mean, what the hell is “anal leakage” as a side effect for a medication!?
3. There is substantial evidence to support its treatment (easing of symptoms) of AIDS, alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, Anorexia, Arthritis, Autism, Brain Tumors, Cachexia, Cancer, Chronic Pain, Chrohn’s Disease, Depression, Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, Glaucoma, High Blood Pressure, Insomnia (helping you fall asleep and STAY asleep), Liver Fibrosis, Migraines, Multiple Sclerosis, Nausea, PTSD, Seizures, and Tourette’s Syndrome, among many others.
4. It will not lead to an increase in DUI offenses any more than Budweiser releasing a new brand of beer will lead to more DUIs.
5. It will not lead to more crimes being committed as the critics scared us about. Crime in California, Washington and Colorado has not raised from its legalization. Go figure.
6. Scientific studies show that your psychomotor functions are not as affected by marijuana as they are by alcohol, especially in the regular amounts consumed by most users when compared to the regular amounts of alcohol consumed.
7. Further, more crimes are committed as a result of alcohol intoxication than marijuana intoxication by leaps and bounds. I do quite well as an attorney and 90% of my cases relate to actions after alcohol has been consumed. Thanks Budweiser!
8. Presently in Illinois, you could go to prison for a mandatory minimum 3 years if you are found to have THC metabolites in your system, regardless of impairment or affect on the body, and you are involved in an accident where someone dies (even if you are not at fault). That means you could ingest THC via second hand smoke, not be impaired, and then the next day, you are involved in a car accident where someone dies. The inactive THC metabolites will show in your urine and you are looking at the next 3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
9. Moreover, Illinois law does not require evidence of impairment to be found guilty of DUI. So long as any controlled substance is in your system, whether active or inactive, you could face criminal charges. What crime are we trying to prevent here? I thought we wanted to prevent and/or punish impaired driving?
10. Finally, and most importantly, as a former prosecutor, it bothered me to request jail time for people arrested for possession of Cannabis but I had to at times. It was hard to justify them going to jail, being paid for by tax payers, when they weren’t bothering anyone but simply had a small, personal amount on them. As a defense attorney, I fight hard to keep clients out of jail for these types of offenses. What is the public interest we are protecting? When people go to jail for small amounts of marijuana, they can lose their job, custody of their children, and we the taxpayer, fund their 3 square meals a day as well as housing, when they are locked up in our overcrowded jail cells – not to mention, after they lose their job, they are placed on public aid. Sure you can say, “If you don’t want to lose your job, don’t smoke.” Well, the fact remains, people will want to get high and self-medicate with marijuana, regardless of what laws you have in place.
11. Thus, why don’t we de-criminalize and tax it? Isn’t our State pretty broke? My Illinois State income taxes nearly doubled last year. Couldn’t we subsidize those tax increases with de-criminalization and taxation of its sale and regulation? I truly believe the benefits outweigh these “harms” that the reefer madness movement in the 80s misinformed us about. What are we afraid of?
Come on Illinois legislators, follow Colorado and Washington’s lead on this.
Jeff Hall is managing partner at Hall, Rustom & Fritz LLC and concentrates his law practice in Criminal Law, DUI & Traffic law, driver’s license reinstatement hearings and criminal record expungements.
If you have a legal question, email Jeff Hall.