Positively Naperville: If Marijuana is Illegal at the Federal Level, Why is Illinois Going to Allow It?

The Illinois General Assembly passed legislation in May to legalize the recreational use of marijuana effective January 1, 2020. The bill, HB 1438, also allows municipalities to decide whether they will allow the sale of recreational marijuana within their borders. Over the last few months, municipal boards across the state have been weighing the pros and cons of recreational marijuana legalization. In Naperville, the city council recently voted not to allow marijuana sales.

I voted against HB 1438 in the Illinois House. While I listened intently to all arguments both in favor of, and against marijuana legalization, I kept coming back to one inescapable truth: No action taken by the General Assembly to legalize recreational marijuana changes the fact that marijuana remains a Schedule I Controlled Substance and is illegal under Federal Law.

I believe firmly that states do not have the authority to usurp federal law. The Supremacy Clause found in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution is clear when it declares the Constitution, laws and treaties of the federal government to be the supreme law of the land, to which judges in every state are bound regardless of state law to the contrary. My oath of office includes a promise to uphold the Constitution of the United States, and I take that oath very seriously. Before states legalize recreational marijuana, federal lawmakers need to first remove marijuana from the Schedule I Controlled Substance list. That hasn’t happened.

I also voted “no” because the long-term effects of Schedule I drugs are not thoroughly studied in the United States. We have no empirical data that proves the real impact long-term marijuana use has on the human brain. I could not put a vote on a measure that could cause real, long-term and irreversible damage to people. During our bill deliberations, experts from the medical community and law enforcement provided compelling testimony about cognitive impairment and safety.

We all chose to live and raise our families in Naperville for a reason. Our town is routinely ranked among the safest cities in America, and our schools attract families that want the very best education for their kids. We truly care about safety, and take collective steps to keep harmful drugs out of our community and away from our youth. Naperville has not escaped the opioid epidemic, and some of our community’s families have endured immeasurable pain and loss from a loved one’s opioid use. Until marijuana is removed from the Schedule I list and comprehensive research is conducted, I feel it has no place in our state.