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Letters to the Editor

'Does Illinois want to be like Colorado?'

Illinois Family Institute (IFI) stands in strong opposition to the legalization of marijuana. For decades, authorities within our cultural institutions have recognized the many harms of marijuana use for “recreation” and intoxication. Medical, scientific, education, law enforcement and clergy professionals worked together to warn society, especially our young people, of the dangers associated with getting high, of addiction and of life-changing consequences. These warning have not expired.

We are alarmed that certain state lawmakers from Chicago want to legalize marijuana in Illinois despite the overwhelming evidence of adverse outcomes in Colorado and Washington state.

There are so many reasons to be concerned about marijuana legalization. Colorado is now ranked first in the nation for “past month” use for children between the ages of 12-17. This is 74 percent higher than the national average. Do we really want some of our children to be among these numbers?

There are also good reasons to be concerned about Illinois highway safety if marijuana is legalized. In the two years after Colorado’s legalization, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 62 percent. A staggering 21 percent of drivers involved in all traffic fatalities in Colorado tested positive for marijuana. Do we really want this in Illinois?

In 2014, the year Colorado’s retail marijuana businesses began operating, marijuana-related hospitalizations increased 20 percent, and emergency room visits increased 25 percent. The costs to taxpayers, as first responders and medical responses increase, are dramatic.

And we can’t ignore the relationship between marijuana use and psychotic incidents. The news has been filled with these tragedies.

Does Illinois really want to legalize a product which will only lead to a more stoned, distracted, apathetic and violent population? This policy will lead to more people buzzed at home, at construction sites, in operating rooms, in classrooms and on our roads.

David E. Smith, executive director of Illinois Family Institute

Tinley Park

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