As of the beginning of this year, cannabis, or marijuana, has been legalized in Illinois as part of a new law that allows the use of recreational marijuana for people over the age of 21. Illinois is the 11th state to legalize the use of recreational Cannabis. Restrictions have been slowly abolished across states in recent years. However, the legalization of recreational marijuana will have more adverse effects than good. Legalizing cannabis products make it more likely to end up in the hands of minors, more likely to promote drug use as safe, and more likely to cause accidents due to driving under the influence.
With the recent epidemic of electronic cigarette use in minors, it is only inevitable that with the legalization of marjuana will have a great impact on the young population also.There is much evidence that the government will not be able to control the distribution of these products to minors. According to a poll of 500 students at Oswego East that asked whether or not the legalization of marijuana would make it more likely for minors to obtain marijuana, 357 students answered “yes”. The reason that over 70 percent of students believe this is because they know that there is little that government entities can do to address this problem. Although electronic cigarettes are only legal for people over the age of 21, the government has failed to control the distribution of vaping products in minors.They ultimately end up in the hands of high schoolers despite the regulations that have been set. Legalizing cannabis for recreational use would make it more readily available to teenangers.
Even though there is no chance for a lethal overdose, marajuana has been widely considered a gateway drug, and people that start to use it early on in their lives are more likely to develop preferences for other more potent drugs. These types of drugs have the potential to kill somebody if overdosed, so allowing people to recreationally use what was once considered an illegal drug can potentially trap them into a system of progression.
Legalizing cannabis products for recreational use will ultimately lead to more automobile accidents. The problem with legalizing cannabis is that, in the end, it is still a drug. It’s a drug that causes effects on ones motor and sensory abilities such as slower reaction times. In October 2018, a study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) discovered that there are 6% more traffic accidents in states where weed is legalized, compared to neighboring locations where marijuana is still illegal. Not only does this clearly show a trend that Illinois could be heading in, but it also challenges the notion that marijuana is not as harmful as people once thought. Anything that impairs a person’s senses will affect their ability to drive.
There is no way for the government to police people who decide to drive under the influence. The only way to detect THC in the body is through a blood test. Not only would there be a lot more cases of driving under the influence in Illinois, but there is no efficient way to detect this accurately. The lives of many people could be put at risk by a single person behind a wheel.
Some may say that alcohol also poses this risk, yet it is legal. Alcohol is a substance that can also be abused, but it can be easily detectable in the body through a simple breathalyzer test and the public has been thoroughly educated on the effects of drunk driving. This is not the same with marijuana. Since legalization is a relatively new trend among states, there has not been a significant push to educate people on its effects. This has caused an absence of proper information that people need to know in order to ensure safe use of the drug.
While there are many ways that Illinois can regulate the use of recreational marijuana, educating people is by far the most important. Educating the population plays a very important role, because it brings to light the potential risks and dangers. For example, through advertising and many scientific studies, the government has successfully educated the population on cigarettes and its carcinogenic effects. Even though cannabis does not contain harmful chemicals, it cannot be considered harmless by any means. We must educate the youth and the adults alike that using marijuana can have effects that slow a person’s reaction time and also lose focus.
Furthermore, Illinois can combat some of these problems by giving high schools proper resources to deal with regulating these substances. It is foolish to neglect the apparent drug problem that affects schools today, and administrations are not properly equipped to deal with it effectively. Proper training should be provided to school staff to better detect and remove these products from the hands of teenagers.
Illinois is now entering into a new phase. It has become clear that Illinois is not going to reverse this law. We might not be able to see the consequences of this decision immediately, but when they do happen, it will certainly make us think of whether or not we can handle this problem before it spirals out of control.
Andrew Le is a columnist for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl