Looking at my parent's wedding album, it is easy to understand why they were nicknamed "Barbie and Ken" by those who knew them. If there is any such thing as the perfect couple, it was them.

My Mom was a bride that every little girl dreamed of looking like on her wedding day. She was an honor student with porcelain skin, long silky hair and a talent for baton twirling that demanded the towns' attention each year at the annual parade.

Next to the beautiful bride stood my father, tall and handsome with a head of thick wavy hair and a smile that was almost too bright to look at. His charm and movie star good looks, made women of all ages blush in his presence.

My Father came from a large family of seven children. He and his brothers followed in their father's footsteps and joined the ironworkers union and even though the job was very dangerous, my Father earned more than most of his peers. In fact, he earned enough to fully furnish a brand new home right after he and my Mom married.

On New Year's Day, a year and a half after the wedding, I was born. My Father made it a point to get home before my Mom and me so that he could assemble the cradle that he bought and sterilize everything he could for the homecoming of his bride and new baby. I still have the pictures from that very day, my Father sitting on the edge of the bed, next to my Mom, holding me close to his chest. If only someone knew then what the future would hold for the three of us.

The Beginning of the End: The Hero Turned Addict

My Father's brother was a known drug user. My Father was persuaded by his family to spend time with his brother in an attempt to help him "straighten out" his life. Ironically, that is about the time that my Father began using drugs himself.

My Parent's marriage took a downward spiral when the drug abuse began. My Mom tried so hard to give my Father the benefit of the doubt. But deep down she knew that he was doing more than playing pool with the guys late at night. He lost his job; he stopped taking care of himself and his nights out with the guys turned into days and weeks. Eventually, he stopped coming home all together.

My Mom did all she could to try to help him. She stood crying in the freezing cold holding me with one arm and banging on the door of a run down house with the other. There was a party inside and even though the music was loud, she could still hear my Father's voice, he sounded high. She begged and pleaded for him to come home with us, but he never opened the door. He didn't want to come home, he didn't want help, he was a stranger to us and it was up to my Mom to raise me on her own.

13 Years Later

It was embarrassing for me at a young age to tell people that I didn't really know my Father. Most of the time I lied to people about him, I always thought that if I admitted that my Father was an addict, that people would think that there was something wrong with me.

Deep down, I struggled to find answers to all the questions that I wanted to ask him. Why did you leave Mom and me? Wasn't I good enough? Did you hate me? Why did you choose a needle full of heroin over your wife and daughter?

The questions ate at me and by the age of 13, I was angry. I loved him and hated him at the same time. I loved him because he was my Father, but I hated him for leaving, I hated him for the 13 years of heartache that I watched my Mom go through. I hated him even more every time she cried over him. And most of all, I hated myself. I felt like his garbage, like he just crumpled me up and tossed me in the trash along with the rest of his life.

Luckily, my Mom was there for me through every swing of emotion that I had. If she wasn't there for me the way that she was, maybe I would have ended up like my Father, I could have. I wondered just how great drugs were, after all, they were enticing enough to convince a man to leave his family. But I never took that chance, my curiosity was strong, but my hatred of drugs was stronger.

I finally decided to try to find my Father. Although my Mom was very concerned about what meeting him might do to me emotionally, she knew that it was something that I had to do. I didn't know what I would find, I was afraid, however, I wanted just a moment with him, just enough time for him to look me in the eyes and tell me for once that he always loved me. He owed it to me.

Our search went on for over a year. Unfortunately, this was 17 years ago, long before the advent of reunion shows and the popularity of the Internet. We had to rely on old phone numbers, old friends and sadly, a ton of returned letters.

Then one day I was walking in from school and I heard my Mom crying on the phone. She waved me over and patted the seat next to her. My heart raced as she hung up the phone. "I am so sorry" she said, "Your Father died two weeks ago of a heroin overdose."

I would like to say that it only took a minute for those words to sink in, but I know it is going to take a lifetime. I felt cheated for the second time and I began to panic because I knew I would be stuck with that feeling forever. All I remember is crying, I cried for days. Sometimes, I still cry, but it is different now, I cry as a mother rather than a daughter. I have a wonderful husband, I am the mother to two beautiful girls of my own and in a few years I will be a doctor.

Now that I am older I have learned to accept what happened and not feel like the victim anymore. I realize now that he was the victim and because of that, I feel sorry for him. The best gift that I have ever received was the gift of becoming a parent. My Father was deprived of that gift, and although he was free to make the choices that he made, there was something inside of him that took him down the wrong path and sadly, he paid the ultimate price.

My anger toward my Father died along with him. I suppose it is better that I never had that moment with him that I wanted so many years ago. I am almost positive that it would have been nothing like I hoped that it would be.

I still have the photo of my Father holding me to his chest. I look at it occasionally and know deep in my heart that the man in the photo was a man who loved me, which is really something; considering that he never really loved himself

(Disclaimer) These stories have been written for Educating Voices, Inc. (EVI), and EVI is not responsible for its contents.

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Latest News

On March 18, 2007, in Great Britain The Independent On Sunday newspaper, apologized for promoting the decriminalization of marijuana.

Jonathan Owen, UK The Independent On Sunday, March 18, 2007

In 1997, this newspaper launched a campaign to decriminalise the drug. If only we had known then what we can reveal today. Record numbers of teenagers are requiring drug treatment as a result of smoking skunk, the highly potent cannabis strain that is 25 times stronger than resin sold a decade ago. More than 22,000 people were treated last year for cannabis addiction – and almost half of those affected were under 18. With doctors and drugs experts warning that skunk can be as damaging as cocaine and heroin leading to mental health problems and psychosis for thousands of teenagers, The Independent on Sunday has today reversed its landmark campaign for cannabis use to be decriminalized.

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Out of control — The official verdict on a huge rise in cannabis–related youth crime

 

Nina Lakhani, UK The Independent On Sunday September 16, 2007

Reclassification of cannabis ‘fuels youth crime wave’

Young offenders are taking up to 75 per cent more of the drug. Nine out of 10 in some areas take cannabis – those who work with them say the situation is ‘out of control.’

Cannabis use among Britain’s young offenders is “out of control”, up by 75 percent in some areas and fuelling a crime epidemic, with youngsters stealing to fund their addictions, according to two studies.

The decision to reclassify the drug three years ago has had another, more sinister impact, with organized crime taking a much more active role in the production and distribution of cannabis.

A rise in young people smoking cannabis openly has led to a rise in the fear of crime in the community leading Sheffield’s police chief to warn of the threat that cannabis poses to the “social fabric of society”.

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Smith upgrades cannabis to class B

 

The Guardian May 7, 2008

The government today defied the advice of drug experts and upgraded cannabis from class C to class B.

Tougher sanctions will replace the current system of police warnings, and officers will be able to arrest first-time offenders.

Jacqui Smith, home secretary, justified her decision by highlighting the strength of "skunk" strains of herbal cannabis now widely available.

Last week, Gordon Brown warned of the "more lethal quality" of much of the cannabis now available, described it as a gateway drug, and said that the reclassification was needed to "send a message to young people that it was unacceptable".
Smith said it accounted for 81% of cannabis available on the streets compared to just 30% in 2002.

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Illinois House of Representatives -- House Resolution HR157

House Resolution HR157

RESOLVED, BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ONE HUNDRED FIRST GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that we urge lawmakers to slow the process of legalizing recreational marijuana in Illinois, so that lawmakers, stakeholders, and experts alike have the chance to consider the societal impact of legalization and examine all of the data from other states that have passed similar legislation; and be it further

RESOLVED, That lawmakers should not rush irresponsible legislation purely for tax revenues but should consider the health and safety of Illinoisans as their first priority when considering the question of legalization; and be it further.

RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be presented to the Governor’s Office and the Clerk of the House.

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House Bill 902: Rep. Carol Ammons, D – Urbana, has introduced a bill that is drawing attention Illinois lawmakers soon expected to turn attention to marijuana

Rebecca Anzel and Peter Hancock, Daily Chronicle, February 12, 2019

Two key Chicago Democratic lawmakers, Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, have met with interested groups around Illinois and are expected to introduce legislation soon.

Meanwhile, however, Rep. Carol Ammons, D—Urbana, already has introduced a bill that is drawing attention. It would open the door to a much more expansive legal pot industry than most others have envisioned.

Ammons’ bill, the Cannabis Legalization Equity Act, would allow anyone age 21 or older with valid identification to buy or sell marijuana. Driving under the influence of the drug still would be illegal. And the legislation makes specific mention that only “legitimate, tax-paying business people” would be permitted to sell cannabis.

Under the measure, Illinoisans could possess as many as 224 grams, or about a half-pound, of marijuana at time. It also would allow individual to grow as many as 24 plants in their own homes for personal consumption, and it would provide for the licensing of cultivation facilities and retail dispensaries.

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New School Resource Officer data shows increase in teen use marijuana

Press Release, Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, December 13, 2018

New data shows a troubling increase in teenagers’ use of marijuana in Illinois, and a significant increase in vaping by teenagers. Those are two major results from the second annual survey of School Resource Officers, who are police officers with primary responsibilities in schools throughout Illinois.

In the first survey, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that marijuana was the primary drug facing schools. Then, 30 percent of respondents had seen an increase in marijuana-related incidents. Since then, new reports show about an 8 percent increase in the number of school resource officers that say more students are abusing the drug.

In October of this year, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, the School Resource Officers Association and Illinois Partners/Educating Voices, conducted its second annual statewide multi-disciplinary study on the impact of marijuana on the health and safety of Illinois residents. More than 100 of the state’s School Resource Officers answered survey questions and recorded a variety of case examples of drug-related incidents that occurred in their schools.

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At least 5 Florida middle school students taken to hospital after eating marijuana-laced gummy bears

 Janelle Griffith, U.S. News, November 29, 2018

A 12-year-old boy allegedly handed out gummy bears ingested with marijuana during the school’s gym class. He faces felony charges of one count of possession of THC or marijuana resin, six counts of distribution of THC within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of paraphernalia.

Marijuana ingested in an edible manner can have a stronger and more prolonged effect, especially in children under the age of 12, according to Children’s Hospital Colorado.

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'Something wasn’t clicking’: WSU study shows offspring of pregnant rats exposed to THC have impaired development

 Erik Lacitis, The Seattle Times, November 20, 2018

The offspring of lab rats that were exposed to marijuana smoke during pregnancy took longer to learn and comprehend tasks than rats whose mothers weren’t exposed to THC, researchers found.
At Washington State University, researchers placed pregnant rats in a small transparent chamber, and 60 times a day, for 2 minutes at a time, the moms-to-be got hit with a blast of vaporized cannabis extract.
Photographs show the white haze, sometimes shooting right at the nostrils of the curious animals, sometimes engulfing their tiny heads. The female rats began getting stoned during the week of their mating period, and then for the 21 days of gestation.

The results were another warning for mothers-to-be who like to light up. The offspring of the rats that ingested marijuana during pregnancy showed slowed development. Or, in layman’s terms, “It was like something wasn’t clicking with them,” explains Ryan McLaughlin, an assistant professor in WSU’s Department of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience.

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JB PRITZKER WANTS LEGAL WEED IN PAY-TO-PLAY ILLINOIS

Parents Opposed to Pot, October 25, 2018

Chicago is the most corrupt city in the country and Illinois is a pay-to-play state. Billionaire JB Pritzker hopes to become the next governor of Illinois. When he talked to young voters at Northwestern University, he highlighted a plan to legalize marijuana. But do these students know the true dangers of the drug? Do they know that the marijuana industry is Big Tobacco 2?

Illinois has budget woes, but legalization of marijuana will bankrupt the state even more. The relatives of billionaire Pritzker invest in marijuana companies and donate nationwide to legalization campaigns. Their companies contribute to the politicians in California with its burgeoning marijuana industry. (See chart below from CALMatters.org.)

Imagine how the legalization of marijuana will add to the crime in crime-ridden as Chicago, while auto insurance rates rise 27% as they did in other states. In Washington State, marijuana figures strongly in the crimes the teens commit against each other. Amazingly, Pritzker said that marijuana is part of his crime-fighting plan. “We don’t need more studies on this. We need to act.”

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Driver’s marijuana, sedative use led to crash that killed 13 in Texas church bus, NTSB says

Claire Z. Cardona, Dallas News, October 17, 2018

A driver’s marijuana and prescription sedative use led to the head-on crash that killed 13 people on a church bus last year, the National Transportation Safety Board determined …

Toxicology test showed Jack Dillon Young had marijuana and clonazepam, a sedative used to treat seizure and panic disorders, in his system. Young also said he took twice the prescribed dosage before the March 29, 2017, crash, according to a summary of the NTSB report.

Young’s truck crossed into on U.S. Highway 83 … and slammed into the bus carrying members of First Baptist New Braunfels.

Unsmoked and partially smoked marijuana cigarettes, drug paraphernalia and prescription and over-the-counter medication were found in Young’s truck.

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It’s Legal. In Canada, Recreational Marijuana Gets Green Light

 Emily Sullivan, NPR, October 17, 2018

The sale of recreational marijuana begins in Canada following a law passed over the summer.

The law says anyone in Canada over the age of 18 is allowed to possess marijuana, provided it’s less than 30 grams – just over an ounce. Canadians can also grow up to four marijuana plants in their home and buy from a provincially regulated retailer.

Keeping the drug illegal in the years prior "has allowed criminals and organized crime to profit, while failing to keep cannabis out of the hands of Canadian youth," the government said in a news release last year. The Canadian Department of Justice says historically, the majority of police-reported drug offenses have involved marijuana.

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Teen Cannabis Use Tied to Lasting Cognitive Changes

Judy George, MedPage Today, October 3, 2018

EVI Editor Note: Canada legalized cannabis on October 18, 2018.

Cannabis use was tied to concurrent and lasting changes in adolescent cognitive functions, according to a study that tracked Canadian high school students.

“The question has been highly controversial, because of concern that legalization will place more cannabis in the hands of more juvenile users,” Moffitt told MedPage Today.

While adolescent use of cannabis and alcohol was tied to generally lower performance in all cognitive domains, “of particular concern was the finding that cannabis use was associated with lasting effects on a measure of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for other addictive behaviors, and might explain why early onset cannabis use is a risk factor for other addictions,” said Patricia Conrod, PhD, of the University of Montreal CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center in a statement.

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Medical cannabis legalization and state-level prevalence of serious mental illness in the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) 2008–2015

International Journal Review of Psychiatry, July 16, 2018

Lauren M. Dutra, William J. Parish, Camille K. Gourdet, Sarah A Wylie & Jenny L Wilie

A higher prevalence of serious mental illness is linked to the states having legalized marijuana. This is the first analysis of the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and mental health. The results of this analysis suggest that, at a population level, medical cannabis legalization is associated with a higher prevalence of serious mental illness, and cannabis use somewhat accounts for this association.

Similarly, research should continue to investigate the relationship between medical cannabis legalization and specific psychiatric disorders. Mental healthcare providers should continue to assess cannabis use among patients to understand its potential role in patients’ symptoms and treatment.

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FDA Approves First Drug Comprised of an Active Ingredient Derived from Marijuana to Treat Rare, Severe Forms of Epilepsy

US Food and Drug Administration — FDA News Release — June 25, 2018

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 25, 2018 approved a new drug, a derivative from marijuana, to treat patients with two forms of epilepsy. GW Pharmaceuticals developed Epidiolex, made from cannabidiol or CBD, a marijuana component that does not cause “highs.” The drug was shown to decrease by 40 percent the number of seizures in patients with Dravet and Lennox-Gastaut syndromes.

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A Perplexing Marijuana Side Effect Relieved by Hot Showers

 Roni Caryn Rabin, New York Times, April 5, 2018

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety
medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time and could be in and out of the shower
for days.

When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my
stomach our like a washcloth,” said the 28-year- old, …

It was nearly 10 years until a doctor finally convinced him the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

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Study: Marijuana Smoke 3 Times Worse For You Than Tobacco Smoke

Alexa Lardieri, U.S. News and World Report, March 20, 2018

Exposure to marijuana smoke is three times more harmful than exposure to tobacco smoke, new research suggests.

Matthew Springer, a professor at University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, studied the effects of smoke on rats and found exposure to secondhand marijuana smoke makes it harder for arteries to expand and allow a healthy flow of blood.

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Pot shops face bans in most of Mass

 

Boston Globe, Dan Adams and Margeaux Sippell, March 17, 2018

Marijuana companies will be banned from a majority of cities and towns in Massachusetts when recreational sales begin this summer, a Globe review has found, the latest indication that there will be fewer pot stores in the early going than many consumers expected.

At least 189 of the state’s 351 municipalities have barred retail marijuana stores and, in most cases, cultivation facilities and other cannabis operations, too, according to local news reports, municipal records, and data collected by the office of Attorney General Maura Healey.

Fifty-nine of the local bans on marijuana businesses are indefinite. The remaining 130 are temporary moratoriums designed to buy local officials time to set up marijuana zoning rules. Many expire on July 1, and the rest are due to end later this year.

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Sessions reverses Obama-era policy on marijuana, unleashes prosecutor

Adam Shaw and Jake Gibson, Fox News, January 4, 2018

Attorney General Jeff Sessions rolled back an Obama-era policy that allowed legal marijuana to thrive without federal intervention.

The move effectively unleashes federal prosecutors to consider bringing marijuana cases, while stopping short of ordering them to do so. “U.S. attorneys need to make decisions in these cases as they do in other drug cases,” a senior DOJ official told Fox News.

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he told law enforcement officials in march. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

In a letter to congressional leaders in May, he asked them to ditch language that prevents the DOJ from spending money preventing states from implementing their own laws on medical marijuana.

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Proof cannabis DOES lead teenagers to harder drugs: Study finds users are 26 times more likely to turn to other substances by the age of 21

Steve Doughty and Ben Spencer, Daily Mail, June 8, 2017

The study of the lives of more than 5,000 teenagers produced the first resounding evidence that cannabis is a gateway to cocaine, amphetamines, hallucinogens and heroin.

Teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis are 26 times more likely to turn to other drugs by the age of 21.

It also discovered that teenage cannabis smokers are 37 times more likely to be hooked on nicotine and three times more likely to be problem drinkers than non-users of the drug.

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Teens rescue girl from horrific crash that killed her pregnant mother

 Dana Rebik, WGN 9, July 6, 2017

A man, arrested for driving under the influence and possession of marijuana, hit a car killing a mother who was six months pregnant and leaving a 1-year-old daughter hanging out the front of the car with one arm hanging out and the other hand reaching back grabbing the baby seat.

The driver, Jacob Kaminski 23 from Marseilles, went on to hit a Toyota Camry carrying three people. They were not hurt.

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2 Kids Die In Hot Car After Mom Locked Them In As Punishment: Cops

 Inside Edition, June 25, 2017

A Texas mother of two was jailed after she left her kids in a hot car where they died while she went inside to smoke marijuana. Cynthia Randolph locked 1-year-old Cavanaugh Ramirez and 2-year-old Juliet Ramirez in a vehicle at as temperatures soared to the mid-nineties. Juliet was unable to escape the car with her brother.

According to police Randolph acknowledged that she left her children in the car intentionally. She found the kids playing in the car and, when the 2-year-old refused to get out, she shut the door to teach her a lesson in the belief that her daughter could get herself and her brother out of vehicle when ready.

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Weed pizza? Massachusetts dispensary offering THC - infused pies

 Fox News, June 9, 2017

Ermont Inc., a dispensary in Quincy, Mass., has created a new pizza sauce infused with 125 milligrams of THC and they’re using that sauce to top their homemade personal pizzas. The THC-content of the pizza is far too high for a single serving. The suggested dosage is 10 milligrams of THC every two hours, not 125 milligrams in the time it normally takes to consume a 6-inch personal pizza.

The pizzas are baked and frozen on-site in Ermont Inc.’s kitchen.

But, for dispensary visitors, these weed pizzas might be too good to be true. There are some downsides to the THC-infused snack, the biggest of which may be the high cost. The personal weed pizzas will cost $40, they cannot be delivered and in order to purchase one of these pizzas, a valid Department of Public Health-issued patient or caregiver card is necessary.

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Horror in New York’s Times Square as car rams into pedestrians killing one and injuring 22

 Anthony Bondpatrick Lion, Mirror, May 18, 2017

Driver ran into pedestrians in Times Square high on marijuana

A car rammed into pedestrians in New York City’s busy Times Square, with one person dead and 22 injured.

Richard Rojas, 26, of the Bronx, was named as the man who drove a maroon sedan at pedestrians, knocking them over near the intersection of 45th street and Broadway.

Rojas, who had two prior arrests for drunk driving, was reportedly high on marijuana after telling officers he had smoked the drug earlier today.

Witnesses said the vehicle drove against traffic and on to the sidewalk about noon after entering the district around 42nd street and driving north.

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Workplace drug testing finds cocaine, marijuana use at 12-year high

Quest Diagnostics, May 17, 2017

Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.
Illinois' positive drug test rate matched the national average, though employees' drugs of choice vary widely in different parts of the state.

Cocaine is big in Chicago's south suburbs while opiates dominate at the southern end of Illinois, according to a local breakdown based on the first three digits of the ZIP codes. Heroin is concentrated around Rockford.

Marijuana, the most common drug for which workers test positive, has a steady presence throughout much of northern and central Illinois but leads to a particularly high positive rate in Sangamon County, home of the state capital.

Illinois has nearly double the national rate of positive heroin tests — 0.055 percent versus 0.028 percent — and the rate is even higher south of Chicago around Will and Kankakee counties. The rate of positive heroin tests is highest around Rockford, where it exceeds 0.12 percent.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions issues charging and sentencing policies for drug crimes.

 Note: A bill in the Illinois legislature would raise the amounts of all drugs constituting an offense while decreasing penalties for all drug offenses (HB3235).

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks at Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City Award Presentation
Department of Justice, Friday May 12, 2017


In 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from a drug overdose. According to a report by the New England Journal of Medicine, the price of heroin is down, the availability is up and the purity is up. We intend to reverse that trend. So we are returning to the enforcement of the law as passed by Congress – plain and simple. If you are a drug trafficker, we will not look the other way. We will not be willfully blind to your conduct. We are talking about a kilogram of heroin – that is 10,000 doses, five kilograms of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms of marijuana. These are not low-level offenders. These are drug dealers. And you're going to prison.

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Quotes and Facts

"Much of the country is advocating the reckless addition of a third drug, marijuana, to the two drugs currently legal for adults, alcohol and tobacco. These two legal drugs are the leading causes of preventable illness. The legal status of a drug has dramatic impact on its use. In July, 2014, 52% of Americans age 12 and older used alcohol, 28% used tobacco and only 7% used marijuana. The dramatically lower level of marijuana use reflects its illegal status not its appeal. Why is it in the interest of our nation to see marijuana use climb to the numbers now seen for alcohol and tobacco? Since when is smoking a problem we promote?"
Peter Bensinger - Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Robert L. DuPont, M.D. - Former Director, National Institute on Drug Abuse