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When Illinois changed its laws to legalize recreational cannabis use, it was a major boon to the residents of the state. Fewer taxpayer dollars will go toward prohibition, and the potential for a new industry and all the jobs that come with it is there. Unfortunately, quite a few people won’t receive any of the potential benefits of legalization thanks to old-fashioned, biased policies still held by government agencies.
Illinois like, many states, wants people who use cannabis legally to do so in their own homes. The law does not legalize any kind of public use of cannabis. It only allows for consumption on private property. However, as letters that went out to residents and public housing run by the Chicago Housing Authority learned recently, they will not have the right to consume cannabis in their own homes.
Anyone who gets caught using cannabis on public housing property could lose their aid and wind up forced to move. While everyone else in Illinois will enjoy the legal right to consume cannabis after January 1, 2020, residents of public housing won’t have that same right.
Ironically, the same facilities banning cannabis lack any means of enforcing a prohibition on the use of alcohol in the same state housing, although alcohol is the more socially problematic of the two substances.
This leaves residents of public housing in Illinois in an awkward position where they must decide between complying with the or potentially violating criminal code by consuming their medical or recreational cannabis outside or in a public space.
Those who live in public housing deserve to have the same rights and freedoms as anyone else. Unfortunately, when it comes to public policy, our country tends to fall short of that ideal. Those who have longest suffered the negative consequences of prohibition will likely still continue to do so thanks to these kinds of broken policies, all stemming from the federal prohibition of cannabis.
For previous Ladybud articles about discrimination, click here.