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Oppose marijuana legislation

5/7/2019, 6 a.m.

On May 4, legislation was unveiled in Illinois that would create a sanctioned marijuana industry in Illinois. I was deeply concerned when I read the text – I could hardly believe that the bill sponsors would, in the name of public health and "community restoration," propose a system so clearly designed to sell as much marijuana and THC products to our community as possible.

Consider:

· This bill sets no THC caps whatsoever.

· It allows for advertising of marijuana products.

· It allows sale of high-potency THC extracts, which have been shown, time and time again, to be linked to the development of psychosis and schizophrenia.

· It allows for sale of THC-laced candies, chocolates and other edibles.

· It allows for sale to individuals as young as 21, when their brain has not finished developing, and marijuana has been shown to, literally, alter the physical shape of the brain.

· It allows for a pot shop to open as little as 1,000 feet from a school. That's less than one-fifth of a mile or about a three-minute walk.

This is not what a public health-driven drug policy change looks like. If we alter our drug policy, it should be to reduce the number of drug users in Illinois. This bill will do the exact opposite.

We deserve better than this. And we can do better. I call on our elected officials to make the choice to stand up and protect those they represent: reject this façade of a bill and insist on developing a better one - one developed in conjunction with healthcare experts.

To anyone who shares my concerns: please reach out to your lawmakers immediately. They listen to who leaves them messages and they do pay attention to how many of their constituents write them e-mails. Now is the time to speak up. The bill is set to be voted on before the current legislative session ends on May 31.

Let's work together to push back against big business interests and keep our community healthy, safe and productive.

Aaron Weiner, PhD, ABPP

Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Director of Addiction Services

Linden Oaks Behavioral Health