Recently WTVO attended the county board meeting to discuss some of the concerns of legalized marijuana starting January 1st, 2020. Many parents and community leaders expressed concerns over underage usage, Rockford's already diminishing resources to handle another substance, and financial impact.

I've had an opportunity to talk with many Illinois residents and Colorado residents about concerns and impacts of this decision. Whether you are for it or against it, I think it's important to know the facts on it.

I want to start by addressing underage usage and the effects on a developing brain. Obviously the effects on the brain can't be disputed. A developing brain needs to do so without any harmful effects from marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, etc. However, many studies have found that in the states with legalized marijuana, teen use is in fact down. It becomes harder to obtain it actually since you have to be of age to purchase it. Granted there will always be a way for them to do so, but it's the same problem they have with alcohol. There's a high school party more than likely happening this weekend where alcohol will be involved and none of those kids are of age to purchase it. This falls on the legal adults to make adult decisions to not provide it to underage kids.

Rockford is concerned they don't have the resources to handle substance abuse problems when they arise as the result of legalization. As tax dollars come in from the legalization of it, it provides to community with more tax dollars to spend on such facilities. Not to mention schools, roads, and more. Many Denver residents have talked about the conditions of the roads since it passed and how new schools have been replacing the old ones that were in desperate need of repairs. Trusting that our elected officials handle this correctly is always a coin flip but we have the ability to make amendments and get new elected officials if we don't like the job they are doing.

The financial impact could loom large for the whole state. It's the dirty secret that nobody wants to talk about, but many residents already do it. With this not being taxed or documented it's difficult to assume how much taxable income the state can generate from Illinois residents.... or its neighbors... For many surrounding states, it hasn't become legal yet. That doesn't mean they aren't currently using it either. It took Colorado just over 5 years to hit the 1 BILLION dollar mark. With less population that Illinois and less population in surrounding states and considering the amount of traffic at places like O'hare, it's hard to believe Illinois couldn't topple that number in less time.

Now again, whether you are for it or against it, one thing is true. Come January 1st it will be legal. Parents need to make sure to talk to their kids about it and adults need to make sure they are not providing it to underage kids.

Do you think Illinois made the right decision in legalizing it? Let me know in the comments.

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