I am responding to your editorial of Sunday, Feb. 10 ("Making marijuana path clear").

Several weeks ago, I listened to a radio interview of Alex Berenson regarding his newly published book, "Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence." I found the interview to be enlightening so I ordered his book. I finished reading the book this past Saturday. (My timing was perfect.) It explores the history of cannabis on two continents, reviews the statistics regarding cannabis use and resultant mental illnesses that can occur, including psychosis and schizophrenia. 

Much money has been spent and will continue to be spent by those who favor the legalization of cannabis. Many are looking at huge profits to be made. Politicians are looking at another revenue steam to address their spending habits and overwhelming state indebtedness. No regard is given to the social and other costs that will occur. Berenson's book explores these costs and many of the myths associated with the push for legalization. 

Shortly after I had listened to the radio interview, I had a conversation with a customer in western Illinois. He is a successful small business owner. He admitted that he had regularly smoked marijuana as a young adult, for about three years. He finally came to the realization that his life was going nowhere. He quit and got down to business. He also shared a conversation that he had with a friend who lives in Colorado. His friend said that he had voted for the legalization of cannabis in Colorado. He indicated that once legalized, there was an influx of habitual users into the state, and there was an increase in crime with more dependence on state provided health and social services. 

Illinois is a transportation crossroads to the nation. Many individuals are employed in the transport of commodities and finished goods, as well as people here in Illinois. Those who employ these people are reluctant to hire residents of states that have legalized marijuana. Unlike alcohol, THC stays in a person's system for extended periods, so it is difficult to measure whether a person is under the influence of marijuana or not at any given moment. This same issue will be problematic for the police. The trial lawyers will have more clients and the courts will be more clogged. 

I am furnishing my copy of "Tell Your Children the Truth About Marijuana, Mental Illness and Violence" to the Herald & Review editorial board for review. I hope that the in-depth research Berenson has completed and presented in his book will cause the editorial board to moderate or reverse your stance on the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in Illinois. The risks are just too high, particularly for your young people. 

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Michael A. Hartwig of Decatur is a life-long resident of Illinois.


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