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Legalized Recreational and Medical Marijuana Impacting Mexican Cartels

Joliet Marijuana LawyerAs the legalized selling of medical marijuana in Illinois enters its fifth month, the program, along with many others like it around the country seems to be having an effect that infamous War on Drugs could not produce. According to reports from the United States Border Patrol and other sources, the increase in government-sanctioned marijuana being grown in the U.S. is starting to drive down prices and, in turn, profits of growers and drug cartels in Mexico.

Prices Being Slashed

As far back as late 2014, even before the Illinois pilot program got underway, small-time marijuana growers in Mexico were already discussing the drop in the value of their products. One grower indicated that in 2011 and 2012, a kilogram of marijuana could bring in $60 to $90 at wholesale prices. “But now they’re paying us $30 to $40 a kilo,” he said. “It’s a big difference.” Growers in Mexico—many of whom struggle to maintain a very modest lifestyle, unlike the Hollywood image of a drug trafficker—expressed concern that legalization in the U.S., either for medical and recreational purposes, would ultimately make their production unsustainable.

Border Patrol Seizures

In 2009, the U.S. Border Patrol reported the seizure of almost 4 million pounds of illegal marijuana along the U.S.-Mexico border. Since then, annual seizures have dropped significantly, down to just over 1.5 million pounds in 2015—the lowest number in at least a decade. Other federal agencies have even acknowledged that the direction of marijuana smuggling is showing signs of reversing, with greater amounts of higher-quality American-grown marijuana finding its way into Mexico.

Not All Legal Production

Although the legal use of marijuana is becoming more popular around the country, there is still concern over the continued illicit growth in the United States. California, for example, is that nation’s leading state for the production of sanctioned medical marijuana, but is also responsible for more than 60 percent of all illegal marijuana plants seized in the country. With the development of a robust medical marijuana market comes the probability that illicit production is increasing as well, so as to meet the demand of non-medical users who do not live in a state where recreational use is permitted.

Such is the case for residents of Illinois. Even as the state’s medical marijuana program continues to grow, those who are not registered participants could find themselves in big trouble for the possession or use of the drug. If you are facing charges of marijuana possession or any other related offense, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. We will review your case, including the details of your arrest and the evidence against, and will work with you to build a responsible, effective defense. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba.

Heroin Epidemic Continues to Plague Illinois

Joliet heroin attorneyAccording to the most recent numbers from the federal government, fatal drug overdoses hit an all-time high in 2014, claiming the lives of more than 47,000 Americans. The number is even more staggering when you consider how much time, energy, and money has been spent on awareness campaigns and addiction treatment over the last several decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has yet to release the numbers for 2015, but few are expecting a significant decrease, meaning that tens of thousands more died due to drug overdose last year. As Illinois continues to compile its statistics for 2015, there is growing concern over the resurgence of serious heroin problem, much of it centered around the greater Chicago area.

Provisional Numbers

In 2014, there were approximately 1,700 drug overdose deaths reported in the state of Illinois. Of that number, about 42 percent, or 711, were related to heroin. Reports released earlier this month place the number of heroin-related overdose fatalities in the state at 692, with many investigations still ongoing and causes of death still to be determined. This seems to be in keeping with a terrible nationwide trend which has seen deaths related to heroin use triple in just the last four years. Government officials cite the drug’s increased availability and relative affordability as the primary factors contributing to the marked uptick in its use and abuse.

Localized Concerns

The Illinois Department of Public Health reports that nearly half of all deaths involving heroin use in Illinois are occurring in a single county. In 2014, there were 321 heroin-related fatalities in Cook County alone, and thus far, another 283 have already been reported for 2015. The problem extends into the Chicago suburbs as well, with Will County reporting more 56 deaths in 2015, up from 37 in 2014.

There is also a great deal of trepidation over the impact that the ongoing state budget impasse will have in 2016. Many outreach programs and addiction support resources have been forced to reduce services or shut down altogether due to a lack of state funding. This is leading many to believe that the lack of available programs could lead to even larger numbers of fatalities this year.

Heroin-Related Legal Problems?

In addition to the physical dangers that the drug presents, heroin possession is also an extremely serious criminal allegation. A conviction could follow you for the rest of your life and severely limit your future opportunities. If you have been charged any type of heroin-related offense, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney right away. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.

Judge Rules Chicago Traffic Camera Tickets Violate Due Process

Red Light Traffic TicketsAs more and more communities around the country continue to install cameras at intersections and other areas of traffic concern, a Cook County judge has found major problems with the program in Chicago. The city is now facing the possibility of being forced to refund millions of dollars collected in fines from motorists who were ticketed as a result of being caught on camera.

The ruling came in a lawsuit filed almost a year ago by three named plaintiffs, alleging that the city violated its own municipal codes in the process of ticketing and collecting fines related to red-light and speed-cameras. By violating the city code, Judge Kathleen Kennedy ruled, ticketed motorists were denied due process and the proper ability to contest their issued citations.

No Second Notice

When a vehicle is caught breaking the law by a red-light camera or speed camera, the city is supposed to send a Notice of Violation to the registered owner of the vehicle. According to Chicago city code, if the owner fails to respond, a second notice is to be sent to the vehicle owner prior to the determination of liability—which is essentially a default judgment of guilt. The lawsuit against the city, however, indicates that second notices are not being sent to motorists and the liability determinations are being made too quickly. Attorneys for the claimants maintain that the second notice is a necessary step in the process to ensure a suspected violator’s right to contest the citation prior to being found financially liable. The suit further claims that late fees are being applied to fines inappropriately, failing to adhere to the timeframes and grace periods provided in the law.

Rejected Motion to Dismiss

While there has been no final verdict in the lawsuit yet, last week’s ruling was issued by Judge Kennedy in regard to the city’s motion to dismiss the case. She rejected the motion, harshly indicating that she believes that Chicago is consistently violating “fundamental principles of justice, equity, and good conscience” in its handling of camera-related violations. In addition, she declared all such tickets to be void, as the lawsuit continues. Her choice of such strong words has led many to believe that the already-financially struggling city will, most likely, be required to refund the fines and fees paid by thousands of motorists.

If you have received a Notice of Violation related to a speed-camera or red-light camera, you may be unsure of what to do next, especially in light of last week’s ruling. For more information, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney. At the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, we understand the law and we will work hard to protect your rights every step of the way. Call 815-740-4025 to schedule your free initial consultation today.

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