SPRINGFIELD – With the Legislature on spring break until April 30, advocacy groups are working to get their points across on topics such as cannabis legalization and a graduated income tax.

State Sen. Heather Steans, a Chicago Democrat, said she expects amended language to be filed on her adult-use legalization, Senate Bill 7, by the end of April.

While details of the bill have not been released publicly in an official capacity, 60 state representatives have signed onto a resolution by state Rep. Marty Moylan, D-Des Plaines, urging lawmakers to “slow the process of legalizing recreational marijuana.”

On Tuesday, a mental health advocacy group urged caution in the legalization process as well, noting that legalization will come with a behavioral health care impact, particularly on teens, and lawmakers must be ready to pony up the money to pay for care.”

Illinois Association for Behavioral Health CEO Sara Howe said data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows the average rate of regular teen marijuana use in the legalized states of Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington is 30 percent higher than the U.S. rate as a whole.

Howe said the IABH is ready to assist the Legislature “in crafting a well thought out and carefully implemented policy, but funding will need to be provided for such measures.

“We cannot and under no circumstances should be expected to, prevent or treat the increase in substance use or mental health disorder diagnoses without a significant and permanent increase in monetary resources – to not do so is simply naïve and ignores the reality of what will occur in communities, she said in the release.

 

MEDICINAL PILOT PROGRAM: Meanwhile, the Medical Cannabis Alliance of Illinois, a trade association representing cultivation centers and dispensary organizations, issued a news release in support of House Bill 895, a bill to make permanent the state’s legalized medicinal program.

The bill is carried by Rep. Bob Morgan, a Deerfield Democrat and the former head of the state’s Medical Cannabis Pilot Program. In addition to making the pilot program permanent, HB895 would expand qualifying conditions for medical cannabis treatment.

MCAI announced a new online resource, www.cannaqualify.com, to help people get access to medicinal cannabis.