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Local

Kane County State's Attorney voices concerns about legalization of marijuana

Illinois residents will be able to legally possess marijuana as of Jan. 1

With recreational marijuana set to become legal in January, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon reiterated his concerns about the legalization of recreational marijuana during his monthly media briefing on Tuesday.

"I was vocal about my opposition to legalizing marijuana," McMahon said. "I believed then and I believe now that it will lead to increased traffic fatalities and [cases] of driving under the influence of marijuana."

Beginning Jan. 1, the law will allow Illinois residents 21 and older to possess up to 30 grams of marijuana per Illinois resident. Residents also will be able to possess 5 grams of cannabis concentrate and up to 500 milligrams of THC – the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives the high sensation – contained in a cannabis-infused product. Nonresidents can possess half those amounts.

Registered medical marijuana patients will be allowed to grow up to five cannabis plants in their home and possess more than 30 grams of cannabis if it is grown and secured in their residence under certain conditions.

In addition, McMahon said the new law will lead to an increase in marijuana use by minors. He pointed to studies showing the impact of marijuana use in young people.

"Use of marijuana by someone under the age of 25 or while the brain is continuing to physically develop does have a permanent and significant long term negative impact on brain development," he said. "So I'm concerned about that."

McMahon noted that it is up to each municipality to decide if they should allow for the sale of recreational marijuana. While the St. Charles City Council recently voted to allow it, Sugar Grove village trustees decided to ban such sales.

"That's a policy issue," he said. "My jurisdiction is the county. It's going to be legal to possess marijuana everywhere. So whether they buy it in some other county and bring it here and consume it here, that's all going to have the same impact on public safety, which is the area where I weigh in on."

He also is concerned that as of right now, there is not a good way to test motorists suspected of driving while high on marijuana.

"There is no chemical test to determine somebody's level of THC that is in their system," McMahon said. "Colorado legalized marijuana in 2014 and there's still no test."

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