Legal Pot Attitude Shifts 'Stunning' | WGLT

Legal Pot Attitude Shifts 'Stunning'

Apr 27, 2017

An indoor marijuana cultivation center
Credit Redbird Scholar

The possibility of legal pot being available in Illinois has left one drug and crime expert 'stunned.'

Proposed legislation in Illinois would make recreational use of marijuana legal. The proposal would allow possession of up to one ounce by people 21 and over. Smoking in public would be prohibited, and driving under the influence would remain illegal.

Sponsors of the bill say the measure won't get a vote this legislative season, but they're beginning a series of hearings on how to craft the law. This comes on the heels of Illinois' highly restrictive medical pot program.

ISU Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice Sciences Ralph Weisheit has researched illegal drugs and rural crime since the 1980s. During Sound Ideas, he said the fact that attitudes have shifted toward legal pot in the United States is "stunning."

ISU Distinguished Professor of Criminal Justice Science Ralph Weisheit has been researching illegal drugs and rural crime since the early 1980s. He's the author of eight books and several research articles.
Credit Lyndsie Schlink / Redbird Scholar

"Sixty-one percent of the population of the U. S. favors full legalization of marijuana. I can't imagine something like being true ten years ago," said Weisheit.

"Ninety-four percent of the population favors medical marijuana. That's amazing to me. I never would have predicted that," Weisheit added.

The way Illinois regulates medical marijuana could eventually help the state set up a recreational use program. Weisheit said the tight rules are a good thing for producers.

"The last thing you want if you're producing marijuana is to have the current (U. S.) Attorney General Jeff Sessions come down on you for misusing the right to give our medical. In a really restrictive environment, it's easy for the state to say, 'We're doing this right. We're doing this in a careful way.' They can piggyback those restrictions on medical onto recreational," said Weisheit.

You can read a Redbird Scholar interview with Weisheit talking about the war on drugs.

WGLT depends on financial support from users to bring you stories and interviews like this one. As someone who values experienced, knowledgeable, and award-winning journalists covering meaningful stories in central Illinois, please consider making a contribution.