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Thorner: One Democrat says “Not so fast” to Illinois legalizing pot

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By Nancy Thorner - 

A 532-page proposal to legalize adult-use cannabis in Illinois by Jan. 1, 2020 was filed in the state Senate on Monday, May 6, 2019.  Pritzker announced his proposal Saturday, May 4th, 2019 at the Black United Fund of Illinois on Chicago's South Side, declaring that "Illinois is going to have the most equity-centric law in the nation."

Adult-use legalization coupled with criminal justice reforms were campaign promises of Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.  According to Pritzker, the proposal "starts righting some historic wrongs" against minority communities that have suffered from discriminatory drug policies and enforcement.

For Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton, who is black, "This bill advances equity by providing resources and second chances to people and communities that have been harmed by policies such as the failed 'war on drugs.’  The measure includes a $20 million low-interest loan program to help defray the costs of starting a licensed cannabis business for "social equity applicants."  Those applicants would include people who have lived in a "disproportionately impacted area" — or communities with high rates of poverty and high rates of arrest and incarceration for marijuana offenses — or been arrested or convicted of offenses eligible for expungement. 

Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 7, carried by Chicago Democratic state Sen. Heather Steans, allows Illinois residents to possess 30 grams of cannabis, five grams of cannabis concentrate and 500 milligrams of THC contained in cannabis-infused products. Visitors from other states could possess half of those amounts.  Up to five home-grown plants would also be allowed, provided certain safety conditions are met.  

The General Assembly has just 21 days of legislative debate on the calendar to pass the critical piece of Pritzker’s first-term agenda before they adjourn. Debate is expected to begin soon in the Senate, which is made up of 40 Democrats and 19 Republicans. The bill will need 30 votes to move to the House for further consideration.

Strong Opposition

Marty-moylan-b2dfb89a-243c-4364-9a5c-95451d84f1b-resize-750State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, has become the de facto leader of the opposition to recreational cannabis in the General Assembly. He said marijuana today is much more potent than what many remember from years gone by. 

Moylan criticism includes a provision found in Amendment 1 to Senate Bill 7 that would allow up people to have up to five marijuana plants in a secured room at home, saying, “What are we going to have, pot police?” Moylan’s resolution calling on legislators to stop rushing through the legalization process has 60 lawmakers signed on in support.

Law enforcement and the Illinois NAACP believe legalization would lead to more addiction and mental health issues and would harm rather than help. 

Said Dr. Raymond Bertino, a retired interventional radiologist from Peoria who is on the board of the Illinois Society for Addiction Medicine:  "The preponderance of the evidence so far says marijuana is not a benign substance.  The evidence doesn’t look good any way you look at it. When medical evidence looks bad, you don’t need it to be conclusive to be careful.” 

Dr. Edward Pont, a practicing physician in Elmhurst who is government affairs chairman for the Illinois chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said his group has adopted the national academy’s opposition to legalization of recreational use, because of concern that marijuana can be “harmful to adolescent health and development.”  

Even the state’s powerful House speaker Michael Madigan said that passage is "not guaranteed as of today.  It could be difficult to get 60 House lawmakers – the threshold needed for the bill to pass that chamber – to agree on some of the language in the proposal, such as:  

  1. How far do you go in terms of the expungement of criminal records?
  2. The process for which businesses will receive new licenses would affect the vote.

According to Madigan: “Among the minorities in the Legislature, they would argue that there oughta be some leg up for minorities in terms of licenses to cultivate or be a dispenser."

 

Legalization Won't Solve These Problems

Jeanne Ives in a recent youtube presentation asks these questions:

"Will legalization solve these Illinois problems"?

  1. Lowest GDP growth in mid-west.
  2. Largest out migration in last 5 years.
  3. Lowest job growth in mid-west.
  4. Either second or highest property tax burden in U.S.
  5. Litigation exposure that employers already have.

Ives goes on to relate: 

“What legalization doesn’t solve”

  1. Estimated to take in an estimated $535 million per year in tax revenue.
  2. This against a $400 billion debt level at the state level.
  3. $10 billion local pension problem (firemen and policemen)

Ives closes with this statement: "It solves none of our fiscal problems and probably creates more."

How is Colorado faring?

A report commissioned to better understand the economics and social costs of legalized marijuana came up with the following important findings. (The research firm used to create the report is QREM, a third-party evaluation firm serving non-profits and many of Colorado’s most reputable foundations.):

  • For every dollar gained in tax revenue, Coloradans spent approximately $4.50 to mitigate the effects of legalization.
  • Costs related to the healthcare system and from high school drop-outs are the largest cost contributors.
  • While people who attended college and use marijuana has grown since legalization, marijuana use remains more prevalent in the population with less education.
  • Research shows a connection between marijuana use and the use of alcohol and other substances,
  • Calls to Poison Control related to marijuana increased dramatically since legalization of medical marijuana and legalization of recreational marijuana.
  • Research does suggest that long-term marijuana use may lead to reduced cognitive ability, particularly in people who begin using it before they turn 18.
  • 69% of marijuana users say they have driven under the influence of marijuana at least once, and 27% admit to driving daily under the influence.
  • The estimated costs of DUIs for people who tested positive for marijuana only in 2016 approaches $25 million

 Kevin Sabet, founder and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, offers this advice:

“The consequences of this bill are far reaching and will have devastating impacts on citizens, communities and youth. Illinois lawmakers must take a smart, commonsense approach and not welcome in another addiction-for-profit industry into the state.”

As an Illinois citizen you can help Illinois lawmakers do the right thing.   

Contact your state legislators and tell them NO to the legalization of recreational marijuana.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. This is ALL ABOUT ANOTHER REVENUE STREAM for a state where DEMONcrats rule and have BANKRUPTED the state. They will be culpable for the increased accident death rates, the worker injuries and deaths from impaired operators and Co-Workers. Colorado is experiencing this but will legislators learn from others mistakes? NO, Illinois’ Elected ate CHASING bucks to pay for the state pension give-aways that ensures Union loyalists, especially the union leaders who profit personally from the quid-pro-quo!

  2. State Rep. Marty Moylan, a Des Plaines Democrat, has become the de facto leader of the opposition to recreational cannabis in the General Assembly. He said marijuana today is much more potent than what many remember from years gone by.
    We have Republicans more to the left of Moylan. Cullerton has always been with Pritzker and the other corrupt people in our government for Deadly Narcotic Marijuana.
    Love Saves Lives
    Carl Lambrecht