Kane County state's attorney opposed to legalized marijuana

  • Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is urging Springfield lawmakers to vote no on a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

    Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is urging Springfield lawmakers to vote no on a proposal to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Updated 9/12/2017 4:22 PM

First it was Colorado and Washington, then Alaska and Oregon.

Last November, voters in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine all signed off on legalizing marijuana for recreational use.


A committee in Springfield has started deliberations on a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational use in Illinois and, of course, tax it.

While any final action could be a ways off if legislators reach agreement, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon is urging state senators and representatives to hold off or kill the proposal.

"I don't know if Illinois is ready now and I don't know if it ever will be," McMahon said Tuesday during his monthly media meeting. "There's just a lot of issues I think would have to be addressed, and the one that interests me the most is the public safety aspect."

McMahon cited problems caused by drunken driving not only in Illinois but across the country. Adding another intoxicant available to drivers would be an increased danger to the public -- a statement supported by a 145 percent increase in fatal traffic crashes in Colorado from 2013 to 2016 where drivers tested positive for marijuana.

McMahon's letter to lawmakers also cited a battery of negative effects of legalization, such as increased crime at dispensaries because they only deal in cash sales, marijuana being more accessible to youths and people younger than 21, along with decreased workplace productivity and tax revenue falling short of expectations.

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"As public leaders, we cannot make marijuana more accessible to adults without making it more accessible to children," part of McMahon's letter read. "I hope you will agree that the lure of potential revenue is not worth our children's futures or increased safety risks."

McMahon said he would prefer if medical experts, such as the American Medical Association, did the research and were behind the push for legalization, instead of the cannabis industry, which stands to make millions or billions in profit.

McMahon also noted legalized marijuana could complicate an officer's search of a vehicle in a traffic stop. If a person is allowed to possess certain amounts of marijuana, that could negate a search that could render other drugs, such as cocaine and heroin.

In July 2016, Illinois decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana so people would have to pay a fine akin to a traffic ticket. Larger amounts of marijuana could still result in misdemeanor or felony charges.

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