What was Illinois Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton thinking when she purchased recreational marijuana in Chicago on the first day of its legal sales in Illinois? Does she not understand that as a public official she is setting a reckless and foolish example, especially for children and teens?
Illinois policy makers are sending a dangerous message to our young people. First, we called it “medicinal.” Now, we call it “recreational.” Gone are the days of “this is your brain on drugs.” Instead, elected officials like Stratton are celebrating drug use by welcoming the marijuana industry to communities throughout the state.
Their feckless example will mislead citizens into a diminished understanding of the dangers of drug use until it affects them personally. As the perception of risk plummets, drug use (and addictions) will climb.
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Not only have lawmakers failed to do their due diligence before passing this marijuana law, but they have also failed to heed the compelling research that indicates how regular use of marijuana affects young people, including an increased risk of psychiatric illnesses and loss of IQ points.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, and religious leaders would do well to counter Stratton’s irresponsible example by returning to the sensible message, “just say no to drugs.”
David E. Smith, Executive Director