Marijuana Legalization: A Community Conversation; Rookie Mag Ends; Science And Ethics Behind CRISPR

December 06, 2018

Alex Coleman/Illinois Newsroom

On The 21st: Ten states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Is Illinois next in line? We’ll dive into what’s next if the legislature takes up the issue next year. And after seven years, the publication Rookie Mag has come to an end. How is it being remembered? But first, last month a scientist in China said that he used a gene-editing technique called CRISPR on two babies and that those babies have already been born. We check in with U of I’s Rachel Whitaker on what CRISPR is, and why so many scientists are upset about how it was used.

Ten states and Washington DC have legalized recreational marijuana. Thirty-two in total allow for medical marijuana.

Illinois has already legalized medical use, and passed decriminalization, all within the past five years. Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker has said he supports legalization, so Illinois could be next in line.

So what will that look like and, what questions would that raise for communities across our state?

Earlier this week we gathered reporters and residents for the Illinois Newsroom’s fourth News and Brews event. We brought together three journalists who might seem familiar to listeners of The 21st.

Lee Gaines is a reporter with WILL and the Illinois Newsroom. Ryan Denham is a reporter with our partner station WGLT in Normal. And Christine Herman is a reporter with WILL and Side Effects Public Media. Liz spoke with them in front of a live audience at Riggs Brewery in Urbana on Tuesday and started by asking Ryan to tell us what makes Illinois similar, and what makes us different, from the states that have already legalized recreational marijuana.

Plus- 

To our Gen X and Gen Y listeners out there… what were you reading as a teenager? Maybe you were a cosmo quiz queen. Or Perhaps Seventeen or Sassy Magazine were among your favorites?

Well millennials grew up with a different kind of teen magazine, Rookie Mag. Back in 2011, Rookie was founded by a then 15 year-old and Oak Park, Illinois native Tavi Gevinson.  She’s now a successful writer and actress, but at the time she was a new generation’s it girl. And Rookie was the it magazine.

Written and edited by young people for young people, Rookie tackled everything from friendships, relationships and sex to music, fashion and identity. And throughout it all, Rookie remained unapologetically teen.

Last week, Tavi announced that Rookie would be ending after seven years of publication.

Joining us on the line is Oak Park native Diamond Sharp, a contributor for Rookie from 2015 to 2017. Her writing has been featured in Pitchfork, The New York Times Magazine and VICE.

Brittany Spanos also joined us from New York. Originally from Chicago’s South Suburbs, Brittany began with Rookie when she was just 21, and today she writes for Rolling Stone.

Also joining us we had Upasna Barath, a former contributor with Rookie and host of the the video series “Upasna Asks.” She’s a senior at North Central College in Naperville.

And- 

It’s been more than two decades since the film Gattaca hit the big screen. At the time, “designer babies,” genetically manipulated to perfection, may have just seemed like just a distant dystopian dream.  

But maybe that dream isn’t so far away after all.  

Last week news broke that a Chinese researcher is claiming to have created the world’s first genetically edited human babies, two twin girls. According to the researcher, the twins’ genes have been modified to resist HIV infection using a process called CRISPR.

Some scientists praise the researcher, while others have denounced it as unethical. And now the Chinese government has said they are shutting down his research and launching an investigation.

Joining us for more on this we had Rachel Whitaker. Rachel is a professor in the Department of Microbiology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.