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Pot could be hot issue this election in parts of Illinois

November 8 could prove to a bigger day at the polls than usual in some parts of Illinois this year. The big draw according to some pundits, at least in places like Champaign and Urbana, is the fact that voters will have a chance to answer the question: "Should the State of Illinois legalize and regulate the sale and use of marijuana in a similar fashion as the State of Colorado?"

Voters in those two communities voted earlier this month to put the question on the ballot. In both instances, support for allowing the electorate to speak to the issue was overwhelming. At the same time, a report on IllinoisHomepage.net observed that opponents of deregulating the drug are worried about the lack of research on the long-term effects of marijuana use and concerned about links between pot impairment and car crashes.

Concerns over impairment of drivers are legitimate, as anyone experienced in dealing with injury or death claims that result from vehicle accidents will attest. Victims have a right to seek compensation for the damage and losses they suffer in accidents due to the negligence of others. And they can be assured of solid representation. Initial consultation costs nothing and no fee is charged unless the case is won.

Liberalization of marijuana use is already underway as readers may well know. Illinois' pilot program for medical marijuana became operational late last year. Since it began, the online version of the Chicago Sun Times says there are some 5,600 people registered as legal patients. There are 36 licensed dispensaries statewide, with two of them in Chicago.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in Springfield are again considering legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Similar efforts have failed in the past and opposition remains high in some quarters, especially law enforcement. 

It's unclear what will happen to the latest measure or what effect the question on the ballot might have. We do know that many will be watching with interest.

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