SPRINGFIELD - The numbers were surprising among readers of a state conservative blog, but 87% of the 1.4 thousand participants in Illinois Review's weekend opinion poll say marijuana should be legalized in Illinois.
Two GOP Illinois lawmakers - state Senator Jason Barickman (R-Champaign) and state Rep. Allen Skillicorn (R-East Dundee) - agree with the overwhelming majority of those answering IR's non-scientific poll that it's time to legalize marijuana in Illinois.
For 30 year old Jake Justen, there are two reasons why he voted yes in the poll and encouraged others to participate in the poll via Twitter: 1. Historically, Prohibition didn't work for alcohol and 2. Prohibition led to a dangerous, violent black market as is with non-medical marijuana distribution now.
"Alcohol prohibition created an underground economy that was very dangerous," Leading to the rise and power of drug cartels in Mexico and Central America. There is no recourse in enforcing agreements, then there's violence resulting," Justen told Illinois Review.
Justen said he doesn't partake of the drug himself, but he sees legalizing marijuana as an economic and freedom issue.
Anita Bedell of Illinois Church Action on Alcohol & Addiction Problems told Illinois Review a similar poll last year drew 60 percent in favor.
"Illinois already decriminalized marijuana. Legalization is different than regulation," Bedell said. "Legalizing marijuana for anyone 21 and older would make the drug more acceptable, more available, and increase use.
She said that studies have found that drug laws keep kids off drugs. In a survey published in 2014 in the International Journal of Drug Policy, 10% of high school students said they did not use marijuana, but would if it was legal.
"Keeping marijuana illegal also stops the advertising and promotion of the drug," Bedell said. "Teens respond to cultural messages and try the drugs they see adults using—alcohol, tobacco. There is no way to legalize marijuana for adults without also making it attractive to adolescents."
Illinois Review's poll was viewed for two days by over 10,000 persons, of which 1.4 thousand chose to participate.