North Shore Republican to propose legislation setting penalties of up to 25 years in prison for selling 'kush'
U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk will call for legislation Monday that would toughen drug-trafficking laws regarding a highly potent form of marijuana, with penalties of up to 25 years in prison for a first-time offense.
The law would target offenders who sell or distribute marijuana that has a THC content exceeding 15 percent, which is between 5 and 10 percentage points higher than average marijuana, according to Kirk's office.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the main active ingredient in marijuana.
Drug dealers are increasingly cross-breeding plants to produce high-potency variants of marijuana, which are called "kush" in street slang when they have 20 percent THC, Lake County Sheriff Mark Curransaid.
Police have been turning up more of the high-potency marijuana in Lake County arrests, he said.
"When you amplify the strength of it, you are increasing the harm to the system," said Curran, who supports the legislation, which would amend a federal law. "They are more dangerous behind the wheel of a vehicle. It's not a good idea to have people that messed up."
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has reported that kush sells for as high as $600 per ounce, creating the same profit potential as crack cocaine, Kirk said.
The Republican North Shore lawmaker said he plans to release more information during a news conference in Chicago on Monday, where he will be joined by representatives from the Lake County Sheriff's Department, the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and Waukegan Police Department.
By Lisa Black
June 15, 2009