The opioids as well as meth and heroin addiction have both a human and an economic cost. These addiction epidemics are spread throughout the District. If you don’t think it’s affecting you or your community, it is.
Some of our communities are battling this more successfully than others. In Coles County, our State’s Attorney put together Illinois’ first drug court. This allows an offset of criminal charges if the defendant completes a multi-phase program, including requiring participants to get back to work. It’s been highly successful here, but they don’t have enough resources.
Helping people keep out of prison, accessing the treatment they need, and getting back to work are priorities for me.
Therefore, as your representative, I would push for more resources for these drug courts.
Also, we need more mental health treatment in America, not less. That means increasing support for counseling programs and grants for those going into the psychiatric profession. Waiting lists for therapy are long and for psychiatric services are even longer in rural America. We need a brain surge. This will increase high paying jobs, increase attendance at universities and colleges across the district, and help people and the economy in the long run.
The marijuana issue is simple for me, but controversial for many others. It’s a medicinal drug that should have been removed as a Schedule I drug in America long ago. Many still claim it’s a gateway drug, but that’s just an anecdotal story told during the failed “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign.
As a medication, marijuana is good for managing pain without the overdose concerns of opioids. It’s also vital for those with wasting issues, i.e. cancer, AIDS, and many other conditions like PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
Secondly, the laws against weed haven’t stopped it. In fact, these laws have denied people jobs, put people in prison for years and decades, and ruined lives. The states where it has been legalized have stats that show legalization corresponds with a decrease in overdoses.
Further, in a state and district with as many economic and deficit problems as Illinois and the 15th have, we shouldn’t be burning taxpayer money on the war against pot. Instead, we should be making tax revenue on it. Legalization would provide a safe place for people to access safe weed without the threat of synthetic weed that actually is dangerous.
Ultimately, we also have to allow for the industrialization of hemp. We currently have a ban on this money maker while hemp imports are heading toward a billion dollars. Considering the need to diversify our crops and that in every season we could grow three hemp crops, the 15th District is missing out on a huge economic opportunity.
Over 25,000 products are made from hemp. When we grow hemp here in our fields, we will develop those industries right here in our empty factories and selling those products in our emptying storefronts.
These are common sense positions, backed by science and medicine. These will benefit people’s lives and boost the economy throughout the region.
Of course, we would need oversight, protections, and community involvement.
These aren’t barriers; these are opportunities.
None of these issues are easy for everyone to accept. We should have an open dialogue to move to more reality-based laws that benefit both our public health as well as our economy.
The status quo is ruining lives, harming our health, and isn’t doing anything to increase economic opportunity. I’ll work every day to make a difference on these issues.