Illinois committee talks legalization of marijuana

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill., (AP) -- The Illinois legislature hears the pros and cons of the legalization of marijuana.

Law enforcement officials and drug-policy experts have different views on whether Illinois should legalize the general use of marijuana.

A joint Senate-House committee took testimony on Wednesday on the legalization.

The sponsors are Senator Heather Steans and Representative Kelly Cassidy. The Chicago Democrats say their plan would allow police to focus on violent crimes and provide tax revenue for a cash-strapped state budget.

The aim, according to Cassidy, is to regulate and ensure the safety of a widely used product.

Several state's attorneys told the committee there's evidence that marijuana use leads to the abuse of harder drugs, adding that roads would be less safe due to motorists driving under the influence of the drug.

Neill Franklin, a retired Maryland State Police major, says it would be safer to legalize and regulate marijuana.