Macon County Sheriff Tony Brown today called on legislators in Springfield to fix major flaws in the Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (SB 7) currently being debated. Along with the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association and Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, Sheriff Brown says the bill, as drafted, contains numerous provisions that create substantial enforcement challenges.
“We have hundreds of jobs here in Macon County that require individuals to be sober. This bill is not how you help people pass a drug test and secure a solid, stable job. Illinois should learn from the mistakes that other states have made, but unfortunately this bill does not do that,” Macon County Sheriff Brown said. “In the coming days, I hope our elected officials will work with law enforcement to seriously address our concerns so we can keep our roads and communities safe.”
Sheriffs believe the following public safety concerns must be addressed in SB 7 if legalization is to move forward:
• Impaired Driving: A 2018 study published in the Journal of Transport and Health found states that decriminalized or legalized marijuana had a dramatic increase in cannabis-related fatal crashes of 31 to 174 percent. Sheriffs believe the measure has insufficient deterrence to reduce and discourage impaired driving, risking the safety of Illinois’ roads.
• Increased Crime: “Home Grow” is a loophole that invites foreign cartels, drug traffickers and organized crime to move into neighborhoods.Home grow makes law enforcement activities more difficult by undermining the system of legal, commercial cannabis.
• Mass Expungement: Giving a free pass to convicted felons for distributing and manufacturing large quantities of illegal drugs has significant policy implications. The 180-day deadline will burden the legal system and law enforcement. Even though Felony convictions prohibit eligibility for a FOID card, mass expungement of felony convictions will allow previously prohibited individuals to obtain firearms.
• Insufficient Resources to Keep Communities Safe: Legalization legislation will significantly increase burdens on law enforcement, but the current 8 percent of tax revenue from legalized marijuana is inadequate to fund the additional work that will come.
Sheriff Brown concluded: “Currently, we do not have a way to test people in real-time whether they are high or sober since THC can be present in an individual’s system but not inhibiting them. The last thing we need is more impaired driving.”