Illinois’ congressional delegation mixed on cannabis legalization

marijuana
In the first 12 days of sales, Illinois state officials said there was nearly $20 million in marijuana products sold. (Photo courtesy: WJBC/File)

By Illinois Radio Network

SPRINGFIELD – With Illinois now more than two weeks into the legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use, some Illinois congressmen are sounding off on if the federal government should follow suit.

Illinois was the eleventh state to legalize cannabis for recreational sales. Before Jan. 1, Illinois decriminalized possession of small amounts before it went legal at the beginning of the year. Before that, the state had a years-long medical cannabis pilot program that was recently made permanent.

There are other states that have medical programs, or have decriminalized possession, or both. Workplace safety consultant DISA says only eleven states in the country have cannabis possession and use being fully illegal.

“Now that Illinois and many other states have decriminalized cannabis, the federal government needs to reexamine its outdated stance on marijuana,” U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, said. “I have been a longtime advocate for federal research of marijuana so that we can more fully understand the health impacts and base our laws in science.”

Foster joins several other Democratic U.S. Representatives from Illinois in signing on to the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act in Congress, but the measure has yet to advance.

Despite Illinois legalizing cannabis for adults over 21 to purchase, possess and consume, U.S. Rep. Darin LaHood, R-Peoria, said he’s not in favor of legalizing adult-use of marijuana on a federal level. He said today’s cannabis is too potent, could harm developing brains and is a gateway drug.

“Between the federal laws that we have in place related to Schedule 1 and what these states are doing, there’s conflicting rules on this that have not been resolved,” LaHood said. “So I have real concerns about that, and I don’t think it’s going to be the money-maker everyone thinks it’s going to be.”

In the first 12 days of sales, Illinois state officials said there was nearly $20 million in marijuana products sold.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said he has more of a state’s rights stance on the issue.

“Because our state legislature chose to legalize marijuana in Illinois, than those legally operating businesses ought to be able to use our financial services institutions,” Davis said. “And I voted to make sure those things happen.”

Davis said he has a more liberal view of cannabis than some of his Republican colleagues, but he doesn’t think it’s ripe for full congressional approval.

“I don’t think we’re at that level right now in Washington. I don’t think it will pass,” Davis said.

He said while he doesn’t think the federal government will legalize it any time soon, he hopes Congress will lead in getting standards for sobriety checks “to see if somebody is under the influence too much of THC and if that’s the case, then I think it makes the roads even safer.”

“And that’s an issue I’m going to be leading on through our highways and transit subcommittee that I lead for our Republicans in Washington,” Davis said.

Illinois Radio Network can be reached at News@WJBC.com. 

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