Illinois passes the legalization of marijuana: the pros and cons

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Jan. 1, 2020 marked the day Illinois become the 11th state to legalize the use of recreational marijuana for consumers aged 21 and above. Governor J.B. Pritzker signed the bill to make it a law in June of 2019.

After just one day, dispensaries in the state of Illinois collectively sold $3,176,256.71 worth of marijuana, which flooded the state with more tax revenue than anticipated. At the end of the first week, dispensaries had produced nearly $11 million dollars. The demand for marijuana was so extreme that many of the establishments had to shut their doors and turn willing customers away to ensure they met the needs of existing medical marijuana customers.

Neal McQueency, principal officer of Midway Dispensary near Midway Airport told The Chicago Tribune that the legalization of marijuana brought in huge wave of demand, saying “we knew we were going to run out. It was a matter of when, not if.”

The surge of recreational weed will profit Illinois in efforts to mend some of its unlucky budget history.

Recreational marijuana will be taxed at 26.25 percent meaning the Illinois economy will have tax revenue ranging from $443,690,100 to  $676,481,400 annually. This profit will only benefit Illinois economy if cannabis consumers purchased from the legal market.

Although the passing of this law has done wonders for the state economically, there are the inevitable cons that come with a potentially harmful drug. Toxicology director at UIC’s medical center, Dr. Trevonne Thompson, said he witnessed patients dealing with symptoms associated with the overconsumption of marijuana on New Year’s Eve and Day. These symptoms vary from increased heart rate, anxiety-type symptoms, crawling out of one’sskin, agitation and hallucinations.

There has been an increase in ER visits that are directly related to the use of weed in states where the drug is now legal, including Colorado. Dr. Andrew Monte at the University of Colorado School of Medicine explains that the use of  “cannabis edibles leads to more adverse drug events that send people to the emergency department than do inhaled products.” Their hospital saw two to three patients a day with severe vomiting, anxiety and psychosis, adding up to more than 2,500 visits at that one hospital alone.

Dr. Trevonne Thompson also explains a common misconception about overdosing on marijuana, saying “you can overdose on cannabis,” and further explains how he sees “in social media there are a lot of memes out there you can’t overdose on pot. That is incorrect you certainly can overdose and have profound clinical effects that require medical intervention to get under control.”

Illinois may be ready to accept the effect recreational marijuana is having on the economy, but may not be willing to deal with the medical effects and the possibilities of misconduct.