Democrats in 6th Congressional race differ on legalizing marijuana

  • The Democrats seeking their party's nomination for the 6th Congressional District seat -- Amanda Howland, left, and Robert Marshall -- disagree on whether the federal government should legalize marijuana.

    The Democrats seeking their party's nomination for the 6th Congressional District seat -- Amanda Howland, left, and Robert Marshall -- disagree on whether the federal government should legalize marijuana.

 
 
Updated 3/10/2016 11:37 AM

Saying the nation should end its war on drugs, Democratic congressional candidate Robert Marshall wants the federal government to legalize marijuana.

But Amanda Howland, the Democrat challenging Marshall for their party's nomination in the 6th Congressional District, said legalizing marijuana is a decision that should be made at the state level.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think it's a state issue more than a federal issue," said Howland, a Lake Zurich resident. "States should be able to make their own decisions."

Democratic voters will decide next Tuesday, March 15, whether they want Howland or Marshall to face the GOP nominee in November for the Republican-controlled 6th congressional District seat.

The district, which includes parts of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and McHenry counties, has been represented by Peter Roskam since 2007. Roskam, a Wheaton Republican, is being challenged in the GOP primary by Gordon "Jay" Kinzler of Glen Ellyn.

Marshall said one of the reasons he entered the race is he has long believed marijuana possession shouldn't be a federal crime.

He said many states already are "moving in the direction" of legalizing marijuana, especially for medicinal purposes. In Illinois, for example, medical marijuana became legal in November.

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"I think we should do it on a national basis now," said Marshall, a 72-year-old radiologist from Burr Ridge. "End this so-called war on drugs, which is extremely expensive and damaging."

He said the drug should be legal on the federal level for both medical and recreational use.

"You could tax it," Marshall said. "It would generate an enormous amount of money."

Howland said she has "no problem" with states legalizing marijuana for medical reasons.

"Do I want to do blanket legalization ... where you have it available to anybody, anytime?" said Howland, a 63-year-old attorney. "I don't think this country is ready for that yet."

In the meantime, she stressed that states should decide whether they want to legalize marijuana -- and how they should do it.

Marshall said federal legalization could be adopted in a way that gives states the opportunity to "opt out."

He also said drug treatment programs should be expanded.

"In the suburbs, overdosing is a big problem," Marshall said. "If you had more treatment, I think you would prevent a lot of these deaths and a lot of these overdoses."

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