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Marijuana Legalization in Illinois Essay

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Updated: Apr 7th, 2020


Lowering sluggishness and boredom, increasing relaxation, countering low self-esteem and the need for increasing energy underscore some of the reasons for consuming recreational drugs and substances. Although most people do not smoke pot, its legalization for recreational purposes in the State of Illinois does not only lead to life enhancement through the reduction of unhappy memories, rising euphoria, and creation of pleasure, but also it constitutes an attractive source of income through taxation.

Illinois residents can also vote for legalization of pot as in the case of Colorado and Washington. However, this paper argues that changes in federal government’s laws are required for the Illinois’ state laws on the legal use of pot for recreational purposes to comply with the US federal laws.

Legalizing recreational Marijuana in Illinois

On November 2012, Washington and Colorado passed regulations for legalization of using pot for recreational purposes. This move expanded the scope of the legal use of marijuana as both states also legalized the deployment of pot for medicinal purposes (Hartman 72). Can Illinois follow the steps taken by the two states to become the third state legalizing cannabis for recreational use? Using marijuana remains a federal crime.

It is among the various drugs and substances whose manufacturing, distribution, and use are regulated by the 1970 Act on drugs and substances use (Hartman 72). Although Illinois has the freedom to enact laws legalizing its use, federal laws supersede laws enacted by states.

This assertion suggests that without campaigning for alterations of provisions of federal law prohibiting the sale of pot, the enactment of laws to legalize its use in Illinois contravenes federal laws. Therefore, a vote for alternation of federal laws should also accompany a vote for altering the Illinois states’ laws to permit recreational use of marijuana.

Regulating marijuana use in Illinois is necessary for the reduction of the amount of financial resources used in campaigns against its use coupled with providing psychological therapeutic benefits associated with recreational drugs and substances. However, the challenge of aligning such laws with regulations on its use in various settings as the workplace raises interrogatives. For instance, the Illinois state’s laws can translate into segregation and discrimination of employees by employers.

Hartman supports this argument by claiming that many employers have already existing regulations for illegal substance and alcohol use within their organizations (73). In addition, they have established mechanisms of testing the use of drugs amongst their employees. Hence, even though Illinois may relax its laws on the use of marijuana, it does not automatically lead to diminished relevance and application of drugs use and testing policies within workplaces.

Taxing marijuana provides an attractive source of national income. However, this move may be accompanied by other costs, which reduce income derived from taxing other sectors of the economy in the state of Illinois. Employers seeking to embrace marijuana users within their organizations need to take caution. Permitting employees to use pot may increase the costs of assuming strict liabilities for negligence claims arising from irresponsible and careless use of machineries, which lead to accidents (Faupel, Horowitz, and Weaver 351).

This challenge may also persist even in situations where employees use marijuana outside the workplace premises, but arrive at the workstations under its influence (Hartman 75). Consequently, it is important for Illinois to establish the situations under which pot use is most appropriate to mitigate counterproductive impacts of its use on other sectors of the economy generating incomes to the state.

The case for legalization of marijuana in Colorado evidences the need to alter federal laws prohibiting marijuana for its legalization law to have both statutory and federal backing in the state of Illinois. A counterargument against the legalization of cannabis in Illinois rests on the platforms of the likely emergence of conflicts between federal and the state laws.

The state of Colorado governor, Hickenlooper, lamented that legalization of pot encompasses a complicated process, but the state intended to follow the regulation to the end. However, he noted that federal laws “still say marijuana is an illegal drug, so don’t break out the Cheetos or Goldfish too quickly” (Hartman 73). Arguably, legalization of cannabis, whether for recreation or even medical purposes, attracts legal confusions.

The prohibition of marijuana use in Illinois only reduces the generation of income to the state through its sales taxation while its use remains prevalent across the US. In fact, the police-state methodology of addressing state health challenges like substance abuse is ineffective (Teesson et al. 1184).

Scherlen supports this argument by claiming that warrantless “government surveillance, drug-sniffing dogs in schools, and random drug testing have all led to a loss of civil liberties in America, while failing miserably at preventing drug use” (69). Why should the state of Illinois not save the public funds used in the prevention of the use of cannabis and dedicate them for other projects while still generating income from legalized marijuana selling and its controlled use?

In consideration of the federal government’s prohibition of pot use, Illinois is governed by the US constitution, which grantees liberty rights to its citizens. This aspect explains why popular vote among supporters of legalization of pot use in both Colorado and Washington counted to the overall decision for its legalization. A state must make laws delivering utmost good to the majority and which increases the capacity to deliver public goods (Faupel, Horowitz, and Weaver 366).

Hence, a popular vote in the legalization of cannabis in the state of Illinois can compel the states to relax policies regulating its use. However, federal laws remain superior to state laws. Therefore, chances for challenging a decision to legalize pot use in the state of Illinois remains an open possibility, which may lead to the nullification of the law.

Nevertheless, the decision to nullify the Illinois’ state law legalizing the use of marijuana may amount to negligence of interest of its citizens should more people vote in support of the law. Consequently, as more states legalize the use of cannabis for recreational purposes, federal governments will also need to relax laws prohibiting its use.


The state of Illinois can decide to reduce the costs of preventing cannabis use as other states, which have already endorsed its use for recreational purposes. However, prevention of its use amongst people below a certain age limit, typically below 18 or 21 years, is also important. Therefore, it is impossible to reduce the costs of preventing the abuse of marijuana by 100%.

The gains, in terms of revenues, for the legalization of marijuana use can counterbalance the costs of administrating and implementing programs for its use prevention amongst some age groups of Illinois’ residents. This aspect ensures that the challenge of marijuana use truncates into a net gain to the state of Illinois in term of revenue generation.

This paper maintains that the need to eliminate friction between state laws and federal laws should compel people pushing for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Illinois to push for changes in federal laws prohibiting its use.

Works Cited

Faupel, Charles, Alan Horowitz, and Greg Weaver. The Sociology of American Drug Use, New York: McGraw Hill, 2005. Print.

Hartman, Holli. “Legalize marijuana and the workplace: preparing for the Trend.” Employee Relations Law Journal 38.4 (2013):72-75. Print.

Scherlen, Renee. “The never-ending drug war: obstacles to drug war policy termination.” Political Science & Politics 45.1 (2012): 67-73. Print.

Teesson, Maree, Tim Slade, Wendy Swift, Katherine Mills, Sonja Memedovic, Louise Newton, Rachel Grove, Nicola Newton, and Wayne Hall. “Prevalence, Correlates and Co-morbidity of DSM-IV Cannabis Use and Cannabis Use Disorder.” Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 46.12 (2012): 1182-1192. Print.

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