State Rep. Speaks Out about Legalization of Marijuana

By: April Potack (Sophomore)

State Representative Kelly Cassidy hopes to soon pass a bill that will legalize marijuana in Illinois.

Kelly Cassidy has been vocal about her plans to legalize cannabis in Illinois for a while now. Journalism teacher Michael Cullinane had arranged this great opportunity for me to interview her and learn more about her plans. Admittedly, I was a nervous wreck since I have never interviewed someone of such high status.

I asked Cassidy about what she planned to do to help legalize marijuana. Cassidy explained that she wanted a bill to be signed that would allow citizens to possess an ounce of marijuana for recreational and medical purposes.

When I asked why she wanted to do this, she spoke about the many benefits of legalizing cannabis such as decreasing drug trafficking, more job opportunities, and health benefits. However, she also mentioned a few cons such as auto accidents, warped perception, and teens/children possibly gaining access to the plant.

Legalizing marijuana in the states is a very controversial subject that divides many people and it seemed as though people would be against this. Surprisingly, a vast majority of people in Illinois support legalization.

State Rep. Kelly Cassidy said, “There’s a Paul Simon institute that polled recently that showed overall 66% of people in Illinois support full legalization and that’s across every demographic group, age, urban, suburban, overall the only group did not that wasn’t that high was Evangelic Christians which isn’t surprising.”

When Cassidy mentioned that teens/children might try to gain access to marijuana, I asked her if high school students should be educated about marijuana in school.

Cassidy explained that the “War on Drugs”, a time in early 70’s and 80’s where the government tried to scare people away from drugs with shocking and strange PSA’s, was a total failure and scaring young people would not prevent them from doing drugs.

She said, “I think honest discussion about cannabis use on a developing brain is way more useful than trying to scare somebody.”

Every plan this big is bound to have some obstacles. Case in point Kevin Sabet who is director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University at Florida who is anti-legalization along with Bill Bennett.

Cassidy said, “So our biggest obstacle right now is Governor Rauner. He has not committed to supporting it and he’s not been super mandible to other reforms we’ve done around cannabis policy.”

Despite the majority support from the people of Illinois Governor Rauner hasn’t supported the idea of legalization of marijuana.

However, Cassidy says that the bill to make cannabis legal will hopefully be passed in a year or two. Citizens will be able to possess an ounce of marijuana and won’t be prosecuted or aren’t charged harshly. After the satisfying interview I left knowing more about her plans and cannabis and held a greater respect for Representative Cassidy.

So what do you think? Should marijuana be legalized in Illinois or should it still remain illegal?

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