Recreational Cannabis

What is the issue?

  • HB 1438 will legalize the use of recreational marijuana for those age 21 and older, and fulfilled one of Governor J.B. Pritzker’s legislative priorities called out in his inaugural speech.
  • The much debated bill has several components including:
    • employer protections to maintain a “zero tolerance” policy for cannabis in the workplace
    • a State Police task force to examine ways to enforce DUI laws involving marijuana use
    • restrictions on home-grown plans for personal use to those who are in the state’s medical marijuana program and limits to no more than 5 plants
    • review of past convictions for possession up to 30g with no associated violent crime for expungement and/or pardon recommendations
  • The Illinois General Assembly passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act in 2013 which legalized the use of medical cannabis in tightly controlled circumstances.

Why does it matter?

  • THC, a component of cannabis, can cause dependency at a similar rate as alcohol does.  Once dependent on cannabis products, users may escalate use to more powerful synthetic cannabinoids which are more toxic.  This has been the pattern in the opioid crisis.
  • Four of every 10 lifetime marijuana users will go on to use another drug in their lifetime.
  • THC concentrate, mixed into almost any type of food or drink, creates edible products with increased potency.  Gummy bears, soda and lollipops attract children and young adults.
  • Currently, cannabis dependency is the leading cause of treatment for substance use disorder among adolescents.
  • Emergency poison control calls for children aged 0 to 9 increased five-fold Colorado after legalization.
  • Traffic accidents and deaths increased 62% following the legalization of marijuana in Colorado.

What is the AMITA Health perspective?

  • AMITA Health is a leader in behavioral health. As Illinois’s largest behavioral health provider, we are firmly committed to treating addiction as a devastating medical condition.  We cannot support legalization that could contribute to greater public access to an agent with known health consequences.
  • AMITA Health believes in prevention.  Our faith-based mission calls us to care for the whole person.  Recreational cannabis should be viewed just like smoking.  By taking small steps to prevent children and adults from forming a habit that will lead to chronic diseases, we help our communities to be healthier and avoid major complications and costs associated with managing the health impacts of digesting THC or smoking cannabis.
  • Recreational cannabis is a public safety and community health concern. In the communities we serve, we work with others to look at the overall health of the community and identify the greatest needs. Decriminalization for possession of small quantities and expanding research into medicinal benefits from the components of cannabis are reasonable steps to take at this time whereas permitting recreational use is not.

Featured News

Featured news includes articles and tweets from multiple viewpoints and is designed to keep you abreast of the current debate around issues that are important to AMITA Health. This information should not be construed as our point of view.

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Recreational Marijuana Will Be Legal In Illinois Jan. 1, But Not Without Limitations

Recreational marijuana may soon be legal in Illinois, but that does not mean people can light up without penalties. There is a long list of ...

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House panel OKs legal pot

An Illinois House committee voted 13-6 Thursday night in favor of a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and older, paving the ...

State Journal Register + May 30, 2019 + View Article