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Legal Marijuana Could Help Fight Heroin Epidemic

Joliet marijuana heroin lawyer

Over the last decade and a half, heroin use has become an issue of critical concern for communities around the country. The problem has become so serious and prevalent that it is being considered a nationwide epidemic. The federal government estimates that, on average, more than 75 people die every day from opioid overdoses—a class of drug that includes heroin as well as legally prescribed painkillers like Oxycontin and Vicodin.

The nature of heroin addiction makes deterrent and punitive efforts by law enforcement agencies difficult at best. A new study, however, suggests that the battle against heroin and opioid abuse may be shifting in some states—and for a surprising reason. It seems that the incremental legalization of marijuana may be decreasing heroin abuse and overdoses in states where medical marijuana programs have been implemented.

Promising Numbers

According to Yuyan Shi , a professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego, “Medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers.” Shi compiled data from states which have legalized marijuana for medical use and found those that did saw hospitalizations for opioid use and abuse drop by about 23 percent. Hospitalizations for opioid overdoses dropped by an average of 13 percent. The research also indicated that there was no increase in marijuana-related hospitalizations, as critics of medical cannabis programs had feared might happen.

Possible Links

While Shi’s research did not examine the reasons behind the potential link between medical marijuana and reduced opioid use, there are a number of factors to consider. Perhaps most glaringly, many people who abuse or are addicted to opioids start with legally-available painkillers. Some have prescriptions from their own doctors while others get Oxycontin or Percocet from friends with legal prescriptions. Opioids are dangerously addictive and when a person’s legal supply runs out—or friends are no longer willing to share illegally—many turn to heroin as a desperate substitute.

Legalized medical marijuana provides an alternative at several stages of the use-abuse cycle. First, many patients who are prescribed medical cannabis for painful chronic conditions may never even need the more dangerous opioid painkillers, thus eliminating the possibility of addiction. In addition, those who have been prescribed opioids could transition to medical marijuana—managed by a physician—instead of falling into the trap of heroin use.

Illinois Drug Policies

In the state of Illinois, simple possession of heroin is a felony. The laws are more lenient regarding marijuana, as the state implemented its medical marijuana program in 2014. A measure that was passed last year also eliminated criminal prosecution for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana for those who are not registered with the medical-use program. Possession of marijuana above that amount, however, could still lead to criminal charges and serious penalties.
If you or someone you know is facing charges related to heroin, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney right away. We will assist you in exploring your options under the law and will work you with every step of the way. There may be programs available that could allow you to avoid a conviction while getting the help you need. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

Will County Offers Alternatives to Drug-Addicted Offenders

Joliet Drug Court Lawyer

Will County Drug Court

In 1971, President Richard Nixon announced to the American public that the nation was at war. Instead of fighting a pitched military battle against another country, the enemy in this particular was drug abuse. In the months and years that followed, federal efforts to control illegal drugs were kicked into high gear with the creation of new agencies and regulations that increased the penalties associated with drug convictions. The “War on Drugs” continued for several decades, with presidents like Ronald Reagan expanding its reach. Criminal consequences became even more severe and prisons began filling to capacity and beyond with non-violent drug offenders.

More recently, however, government officials around the country are beginning to second-guess the draconian approach to illegal drug use and abuse, especially pertaining to offenders whose behavior is driven by bona fide addiction. Harsh criminal penalties are hardly a detriment for a person with addiction issues, and the War on Drugs did surprisingly little to rehabilitate those who were addicted to drugs. As a result, diversionary programs have become increasingly popular in many states, including here in Illinois. One such program is known as Drug Court and is specifically designed to break the cycle of addiction and integrating non-violent offender back into a law-abiding way of life.

Cost Savings

According to the Will County State’s Attorney’s office , a single inmate at the Will County Adult Detention Facility costs taxpayers approximately $23,000 per year. By comparison, the cost for one offender to complete the Drug Court program is about $3,000. Beyond these savings, the average non-violent offender who is sent to prison is up to 10 times more likely to re-offend than an offender who graduates from Will County Drug Court.

Defendant Eligibility

Will County Drug Court is a comprehensive program that includes counseling, substance abuse treatment, job preparation, and careful supervision by the courts and other assigned individuals. In order to be eligible for Drug Court, an offender must be charged with a non-violent misdemeanor or felony and cannot have three or more non-violent felony convictions in the past 10 years. A defendant is also ineligible if he or she has been convicted of any violent crime during that same period. Pending DUI charges will also disqualify an individual.

The Drug Court Program

An applicant must admit that he or she has a drug or alcohol problem and be compliant with all treatment recommendations of the program. He or she will be required to sign a contract pleading guilty to the charged offense and waiving the right to a full trial and other specified rights. Throughout the course of the program, a participant must make regular court appearances, submit to random drug testing, and check in with a probation officer while continuing his or her ordered treatment. Successful completion of the program results in the original charges being stricken with leave to reinstate, making them eligible for expungement.

Call Us for Help

If you or someone you love is facing non-violent drug charges and you would like to know more about Drug Court or other diversionary programs, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation today.

Theft Charges and Possessing Stolen Property

Joliet Theft Lawyer Stolen Property

Most people are familiar with the crime of theft —which is an offense that is committed when someone takes property that belongs to another. Most are even familiar with the principle that a theft is still committed when a person obtains control over another’s property by trickery or by deceit. Furthermore, most people are aware that it is a crime to knowingly receive property that was stolen by another. However, Illinois law states that, if a person has received stolen property, he or she may be charged with theft, almost as if he or she stole the property in the first place.

Theft

There are several ways to commit a theft in Illinois. The most basic understanding of theft includes obtaining or exerting unauthorized control over another’s property, including by deception or some type of threat. Theft is also committed if a person obtains or exerts control over property known or stated by law enforcement to have already been stolen.
In short, a person commits theft anytime he or she, without the permission of the owner, takes another’s property or knowingly receives stolen property.

Stolen Property

This definition of theft means that a person can be arrested and charged if he or she possesses stolen property and either knows or should have known that the property was stolen. But, if someone receives stolen property but does not know that the property was stolen, and does not have reason to believe that it was stolen, no theft is committed.
Under Illinois law , “property” means anything of value. It can include money, goods, such as jewelry, or instruments embodying services, such as an airline ticket. It includes intellectual property, such as blueprints or computer programs, and real estate or anything affixed to or growing on land.

Stolen Motor Vehicles

Possession of a stolen motor vehicle , however, is a separate offense in the state of Illinois. It is a violation of Illinois law to receive, possess, conceal, dispose of, or transfer a stolen vehicle or an essential part—such as a chassis, seat, or engine—of a stolen vehicle. The crime of possession requires knowledge that the vehicle was stolen. However, since the transfer and sale of vehicles is so strictly regulated and so well-documented, the court can infer that a person in unexplained possession of a stolen vehicle knew that it was stolen. Possession of a stolen motor vehicle is a Class 2 felony and can result in a prison sentence of three to seven years.

If you have received or possessed property that you knew or should have known was stolen, you can be charged with the serious crime of theft. When facing charges such as these, the advice of an experienced attorney is essential. Contact a skilled Joliet criminal defense attorney at the Law Office Jack L. Zaremba today for a free consultation.

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