The Illinois Senate recently passed a bill designed to make it harder for the courts to order probationers not to use prescription cannabis or methadone. The bill would also prohibit the court from making drug tests or monitoring devices for illegal substances like cannabis or alcohol required in cases that have nothing to do with alcohol or substance abuse. The next step is for the Illinois House of Representatives to consider the issue.
Marijuana use in Illinois
In August 2013, Illinois was the 20th state to authorize the cultivation and dispensing of cannabis for medical purposes. This means that individuals who meet qualifying conditions can use marijuana legally in the state. On January 1, 2020, Illinois became the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults.
Still, many individuals on probation face probation terms and conditions that forbid them to use any drugs or alcohol even though drugs and drunk driving were not involved in their case. However, the bill that passed the Illinois Senate by a vote of 34 to 21 aims to relieve some of these restrictions.
Many probationers are required to use Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors (SCRAM). However, the use of these monitors is often applied inconsistently. This can lead to defendants having massive fees and charges every month.
One set of laws
A major argument against penalizing probationers that use cannabis or alcohol is that there should be one set of laws for everyone. Many have argued that punishing people for using legal substances like cannabis and alcohol means that the laws for those who are on probation do not harmonize with the laws for everyone else.
There has also been vocal criticism of the fees that probation departments and private contractors charge probationers. Because of their legal situation, they have been forced to pay high fees for mandatory testing.
There are a lot of opinions for and against prohibiting probationers from using legal substances. Thankfully, there is an ongoing conversation that creates the circumstances that could allow probationers to live a life without certain restrictions and burdens.