Illinois Political Candidates Shouldn’t Go Backwards on Marijuana Laws, Say Illinois Attorneys

Attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, a family law and criminal defense firm in Illinois, said that progress can be offset if officials don’t hold the line on marijuana-related reforms.

Woodridge, Illinois, UNITED STATES

Chicago, Illinois, May 31, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Illinois has joined many states in taking a more lenient stance on marijuana use, including decriminalizing possession of small quantities and implementing a pilot program allowing use of marijuana for medical purposes. Attorneys at the Illinois law firm of Wolfe & Stec said that lawmakers should continue down this forward-thinking path. 

“During an election year, you’ll hear a lot of rhetoric from candidates,” said Natalie Stec. “There’s a chance that we’ll go even further in relaxing our marijuana laws. Most importantly, what voters and advocates need to urge is that, at the very least, we don’t go backwards on this issue.”

Democratic candidates in Illinois tend to favor relaxing laws, while Republicans are hesitant to consider measures like legalization. 

The attorneys said that previous reforms were desperately needed in Illinois, which was one of the nation’s top 12 states for the number of marijuana-possession arrests, according to a 2010 report from the American Civil Liberties Union. Those arrests disproportionately affected African-Americans, who made up nearly 60 percent of marijuana-related arrests.

“Strict marijuana laws create several problems,” said Marc Wolfe. “They draw resources from law enforcement, cost taxpayers money, create a space for illegal drug trade and cause serious injustices in our criminal justice system.”

The firm said that regardless of whether voters weigh in on the issue in November, polls indicate that most Illinois voters want decriminalization and legalization. A poll from the Paul Simon Institute for Public Policy found that 74 percent favored decriminalization and 66 percent favored legalization of recreational marijuana.

“Based on the narrative from candidates and public polling, it’s clear that the wind is at the backs of more progressive marijuana law advocates,” Stec said. “At bare minimum, our lawmakers and candidates should pledge not to reverse current decriminalization laws and to continue the medical marijuana program.”

“It might be time to take the next step in our state’s marijuana laws,” Wolfe said. “The thing we really want to avoid, however, is a reversion back to our previous policies.”


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