SPRINGFIELD - Illinois lawmakers are one vote away from legalizing marijuana consumption for minors with epilepsy, which some families claim is effective in reducing seizures.
Marijuana consumed by children is most commonly done via food. Therefore the use of edible marijuana is a topic now that medicinal use is legal in Illinois.
However, legalizing edible pot results in other issues. This week, a Calumet Park man was ordered held on $50,000 bond after prosecutors alleged he gave his girlfriend a marijuana-laced cake that she and a 1-year-old boy snacked on.
Emmanuel Ekaette, 23, was charged with three felony counts of aggravated battery, cannabis possession and endangering the health of a child. Ekaette brought his Calumet Park girlfriend a cake filled with “crushed leaves,” prosecutors said. She shared the cake with a toddler visiting her.
An adult smoking a joint is one thing, but the consumption and absorption of edible cannabis is another. Not only is it difficult to gear the concentration levels of unregulated liquid marijuana, but digesting the drug produces a different effect on both adults and children.
Experts say the amount of marijuana in edibles can vary widely, and in some cases, the levels are so high people report extreme paranoia and anxiety bordering on psychotic behavior.
Two deaths in Colorado connected with edible marijuana products are forcing Colorado lawmakers to toughen regulations and now experts are warning of bizarre behavior as consumers eat powerful pot-infused foods.
Edibles give users a different kind of high than the one they get from smoking marijuana, largely because the pot is absorbed through the stomach instead of the lungs, USA Today reports. The effects are slower to arrive, generally last longer and can be more intense because people unwittingly eat more than they intend to. On the other hand, people who smoke pot get high quickly, allowing them to better regulate how stoned they're getting.
"If you eat too much marijuana, you have hot flashes and cold flashes and then you get under the covers and pass out. You don't start waving a gun around," says Steve Horwitz of Denver's Ganja Gourmet. ""Any marijuana user who consumes edibles will, sooner or later, accidentally eat too much. It's very unpleasant."
Still, marijuana consumers say their children coping with epilepsy should have access to the drug as a medical treatment. And both Democrats as well as Republicans are on board for the next level of marijuana consumption. Co-sponsors of the bill include:
State Senators Iris Y. Martinez - Dan Kotowski - William Delgado - David Koehler - Ira I. Silverstein, William R. Haine, John M. Sullivan, Dave Syverson, Melinda Bush, Emil Jones, III, Jacqueline Y. Collins, Mattie Hunter, Toi W. Hutchinson, Donne E. Trotter, Linda Holmes and Napoleon Harris, III have signed on and passed the legislation in April.
House members Rep. Lou Lang - Jim Durkin - Robyn Gabel - David R. Leitch - Sara Feigenholtz, Jaime M. Andrade, Jr., Maria Antonia Berrios, Laura Fine, Linda Chapa LaVia, Emanuel Chris Welch, Kelly M. Cassidy,Jehan A. Gordon-Booth and JoAnn D. Osmond also signed on to sponsor SB 2636.