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Advocate: Legalized Marijuana Would Prevent Trade By Teens

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Photo Of Marijuana Plants. (AP Photo)

Photo Of Marijuana Plants. (AP Photo)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — An advocate for the legalization of marijuana says teens would never have been able to buy and sell pot at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, if the substance were legal and regulated.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports, the two students, ages 15 and 16, have been charged as juveniles with misdemeanor marijuana delivery and delivery conspiracy.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports

Lincolnshire police Detective Adam Hyde says one student’s cell phone was searched, and he says text messages described the drug dealing.

Dan Linn, executive director of the Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said if marijuana were legalized, it could be kept away from those who are underage.

“By keeping it illegal, there’s absolutely no control over who sells it, what the quality levels are, or who’s able to buy it,” he said.

Linn emphasizes that he does not support marijuana being available for absolutely anyone who wants to use it, regardless of age.

“In no way, as an organization, are we supporting people of that age using cannabis, or selling cannabis to others,” Linn said.

But he points out that because marijuana is illegal across the board, there are no safeguards in place for age restriction. Thus, he says, it is easier for teens to buy marijuana than to buy beer – which requires an ID.

Linn argues that Illinois is losing both the ability to control and tax marijuana under current law.

Proposals to for legalization of recreational marijuana are moving ahead in some states. In Washington state, activists gathered enough signatures for a ballot referendum on whether to allow the state to legalize marijuana for those over 21 and levy taxes on it, according to published reports.

A referendum on legalizing and taxing marijuana also appeared on ballots in California in 2010, but ended up being rejected by voters.

No proposal for full legalization of marijuana has advanced in Illinois, but a bill that would permit the use of medical marijuana is pending in the state House Rules Committee.

An earlier bill that would have legalized medical marijuana for a three-year pilot program in Illinois went up in smoke in the state House of Representatives in May of last year.

That bill would have allowed patients to possess a small amount of cannabis if they are suffering from cancer, HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, glaucoma, Crohn’s disease or Alzheimer’s.

Sixteen states and the District of Columbia currently allow medical marijuana in some form.

Meanwhile, Chicago aldermen have introduced an ordinance that would reduce the penalty for those who are caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana to a $200 fine and 10 hours of community service, instead of incarceration.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has also come out in favor of reducing the penalties for marijuana possession, saying cannabis defendants are contributing to overcrowding in the Cook County Jail.

Regardless of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, regardless of whether its purpose is medical or recreational.

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