Illinois Lawmakers Respond to Prohibition's Collateral Damage

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With five cannabis measures advancing in the Illinois General Assembly this week, Dan Linn, executive director of Illinois NORML, notes the significant interest in reform and how the openness for discussion has grown.

Rotunda, Illinois State Capitol (photo by Susan Smith)

Even in an election year, Illinois lawmakers are realizing that our prohibition on cannabis has failed and that action needs to be taken to reduce and eventually remove the penalties associated with responsibly consuming cannabis.

“The collateral consequences of cannabis prohibition,” noted Dan Linn, executive director of Illinois NORML, “are proving to be socially burdensome: in politics, that usually means change.”

Illinois NORML is the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, the oldest national public policy organization dedicated to the removal of penalties for the responsible adult consumption of cannabis.

In the last week five cannabis reform measures advanced quietly in the Illinois General Assembly. Three bills dealing with lowering the consequences of small cannabis offenses advanced out of House Committees, illustrating a new approach toward non-medical users of the plant. Also, a Republican sponsored hemp farming and research bill moved out of Executive Committee. Most notably, a bill to include epileptic children in the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program unanimously passed the Senate Public Health Committee without opposition testimony. Each bill now moves to a full vote by the respective chamber.

“Even in an election year,” noted Linn, “Illinois lawmakers are realizing that our prohibition on cannabis has failed and that action needs to be taken to reduce and eventually remove the penalties associated with responsibly consuming cannabis. At the same time we are reducing the penalties we can provide a new opportunity for jobs and boost the economy by allowing hemp farming once again in Illinois.”

“It’s overdue,” Linn observed, “for Illinois lawmakers to address the collateral consequences associated with an arrest and criminal record for cannabis. Too many Illinoisans are deprived of access to housing, gainful employment and other opportunities due to a cannabis conviction.”

For more information, visit the Illinois General Assembly and Illinois NORML webpages.

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