CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago Crime Commission has urged Gov. Pat Quinn to veto medical marijuana legislation approved by state lawmakers earlier this year.
The commission said legalizing medical marijuana would “present serious public safety risks to the citizens of the state.”
The governor has said he is “open-minded” on medical marijuana, but has not said if he would sign the legislation approved by the Illinois General Assembly.
Crime Commission executive director Joe Ways said the amount of marijuana patients would be allowed to have is too high.
“Allowing each card holder 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks will provide a surplus of marijuana that will undoubtedly find its way into the wrong hands and have significant law enforcement implications,” Ways said in a written statement.
The commission also said the legislation does not provide for sufficient testing to determine if motorists have been impaired by marijuana use. The bill would require anyone with a medical marijuana permit to submit to a field sobriety test during a police traffic stop.
The legislation states that federally approved field-sobriety tests are adequate to determine impairment.
Supporters have said standard field sobriety tests are admissible in court, and the “divided attention” tests would sufficiently evaluate a driver’s hand-eye coordination, and his or her ability to maintain balance and listen to instructions.
However, opponents have said such tests have not been shown conclusively to be effective in determining impairment by marijuana.
“It is critical that Illinois avoids the mistakes of states like Colorado, where passage of medical marijuana legislation resulted in a dramatic jump in crashes where the driver tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana,” Ways said.
Opponents also have said blood and urine tests would not be effective in testing for marijuana, because THC – the mind-altering chemical in marijuana – stays in a person’s system for weeks, long after any impairment has worn off.
Supporters of the legislation have touted it as having the strictest limits on marijuana among states that authorize the drug for medical use. The measure would authorize physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients with whom they have an existing relationship, and who have at least one of more than 30 medical conditions listed in the legislation.
The proposed legislation creates a framework for a four-year pilot program that includes requiring patients and caregivers to undergo background checks. It sets a 2.5 ounce limit per patient per purchase and calls for 60 dispensaries regulated by the state where patients could buy the drug.
Eighteen states and the District of Columbia allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes.