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Community Leaders, Healthy and Productive Illinois Discuss Implications of Commercialized Pot, Launch Ad Campaign

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(Chicago, IL) – Healthy and Productive Illinois held a press conference Monday encouraging citizens to join them in their fight against marijuana legalization efforts in Illinois. The coalition pointed to consequences of recreational marijuana use including limitless potency, candies, and drugged driving.

“Illinois has a big decision to make which will have lasting impact on our state. We are working to educate voters on the realities and consequences of legalizing recreational marijuana,” said Lavon Pettis, State Director of Healthy and Productive Illinois. “We need to learn from other states that have had real consequences including out of control drugged driving and the targeting of children with colorful marijuana edibles.”

Joining Healthy and Productive Illinois was Kevin Sabet, CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and special guests Dr. Aaron Weiner, Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Interim Pastor at New Hope Baptist Church and Vrushali Thakkar, a student at Stevenson High School.

“The people of llinois don’t have to experiment with higher potency and unlimited marijuana – you should learn from the mistakes other states have already made. Just look at the increased substance abuse, more impaired drivers on the roads, and thriving black markets in other states – is this what Illinois wants to see?” said Kevin Sabet, CEO of SAM.

“Many of the individuals that enter our addiction services at Linden Oaks began their fight with addiction when they started using marijuana at a young age. The greatest risk we see with legalization is that it will eliminate the perceived risk of marijuana, though the risks remain very real. As people begin to believe that there are no risks to using marijuana and THC, use will inevitably increase exacerbating the concerns around addiction, drugged driving and youth use.
Illinois needs to have an honest conversation about legalizing marijuana and what costs we would be placing on our society,” said Dr. Aaron Weiner, Director of Addiction Services at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

“We can see from other states who have legalized recreational marijuana that it is not harmless and it will not eliminate the illegal trade of the drug. In 2016, Colorado law enforcement confiscated over 7,000 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of pot headed to 36 states. Narcotics officers in Colorado have been busy responding to the 50% increase in illegal growing operations across rural areas in the state since legalization. The people of our state deserve better than this and we owe it to future generations to take a smart approach to this addictive drug,” said Rev. Gregory Seal Livingston, Interim Pastor at New Hope Baptist Church.

“Proponents of marijuana don’t talk about the detrimental effects legalization would have on teens. Industries are aware that if they get youth addicted early, while their brains are developing, they will be addicts for life. Just like the tobacco and alcohol industries before them, the marijuana industry builds their industry around marketing to youth. The marijuana industry doesn’t even hide it that well with products like gummy bears, pot tarts, sodas, and suckers!”
said Vrushali Thakkar, Stevenson High School 2020

“As a former DEA administrator, we need few drugs on the street, not more. Legalizing recreational marijuana will damage the young people in Illinois and it will damage the industries and put the highways in jeopardy. Marijuana can stay in our system for a week, unlike alcohol that we dissipate at about a drink an hour,” said Peter Besigner, former DEA administrator.

Get the Facts:

• Drugged driving crashes would soar. Marijuana legalization is connected to large increases in road fatalities and crashes, as marijuana can impair a driver’s reaction time.

• Youth use would go up – and that is bad for brains developing well into their 20s. Recently, the most comprehensive survey on drug use found there are more than 8,000 new marijuana users each day and 22% of 18 to 25-year-olds are currently using the drug- the highest it has been in recent memory.

• Today’s marijuana is much more potent – and harmful – than in the past. The marijuana industry routinely sells products with THC up to 99% potent; the weed of Woodstock was only 5% THC.

• Colorado is hailed as the poster child of marijuana legalization, yet opioid deaths have risen every single year since legalization. In 2017, opioid deaths were at the highest levels in state history.

• The illegal trade of marijuana is also soaring. In 2016, Colorado law enforcement confiscated over 7,000 pounds of marijuana, carried out 252 arrests, and made 346 highway interdictions of marijuana headed to 36 states.

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