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Just legalize it, already

Friday, Jul 29, 2016 - Posted by Rich Miller

* WaPo

There’s a simple reason why legalization may not be having much of an effect on teen marijuana use — adolescents already report that marijuana is widely available. Nationally, roughly 80 percent of 12th-graders say that pot is easy to get. The kids who want to smoke weed are probably already doing so — and legalization would do little to change that.

Drying up the black market would certainly limit pot’s availability to children. Kids can’t easily find a street-corner booze dealer like they can with pot dealers. And pot dealers don’t check ID cards. Yeah, the most determined ones will always find a way, but Walgreen’s managers don’t engage in bullet-riddled turf wars with CVS managers.

Let’s legalize it so we can stamp out the rampant criminal involvement the way we did with alcohol and video poker machines.



  1. - Honeybear - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:46 am:

    Legalize it and tax it. Man could weed money really help the state right now.

  2. - Louis G Atsaves - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:48 am:

    It needs to be legalized on a federal level. The legalization creep here of “medical marijuana” has been interesting, but frustrating.

  3. - AlfondoGonz - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:49 am:

    That’s dangerous thinking, Rich. Best we remain loyal to the status quo /s

  4. - Saluki - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:52 am:

    From the American Lung Association:

    “Smoking marijuana clearly damages the human lung. Research shows that smoking marijuana causes chronic bronchitis and marijuana smoke has been shown to injure the cell linings of the large airways, which could explain why smoking marijuana leads to symptoms such as chronic cough, phlegm production, wheeze and acute bronchitis.4,9

    Smoking marijuana has also been linked to cases of air pockets in between both lungs and between the lungs and the chest wall, as well as large air bubbles in the lungs among young to middle-aged adults, mostly heavy smokers of marijuana. However, it’s not possible to establish whether these occur more frequently among marijuana smokers than the general population.

    Smoking marijuana can harm more than just the lungs and respiratory system - it can also affect the immune system and the body’s ability to fight disease, especially for those whose immune systems are already weakened from immunosuppressive drugs or diseases, such as HIV infection.”

    Yeah, sure….Just legalize it already…..normalize the use…..good idea. Sorry, I just can’t get on board with this one.

  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:54 am:

    Saluki, if you want to ban things because they’re harmful to lungs, then let’s start with gasoline. Hooray!!! /s

  6. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:55 am:

    ===normalize the use===

    It already is.

    Why are you siding with criminals?

  7. - TheGoodLieutenant - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:56 am:

    Agreed. Decriminalization of small amounts will do nothing to stem street corner weed dealers from continuing their operations. Legalize it!

  8. - DuPage Saint - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:57 am:

    My goodness how can anyone want to legalize it. You will not be able to keep jails full, public defenders will lose jobs and kids lives won’t be ruined with felony convictions! What would be the upside?

  9. - Thoughts Matter - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 9:59 am:

    I agree with Rich. Tax it, regulate it. Allow employers to discipline for use of it as they do alcohol, Set legal limits for driving. Teens will be less likely to get it. Cartels will suffer serious damage.

    Saluki- I get your point, it can be harmful, like cigarettes and alcohol. But, it’s not my place to tell an adult what to ingest as long as we put safeguards in place to protect the safety of others. If they are fully informed of the risk, it’s not my business. We can disagree and still be ok.

  10. - illinoised - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:00 am:

    Saluki, a good vaporizer will fix those issues. Trust me.

  11. - AC - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:01 am:

    Saluki, to my knowledge no one ever got lung cancer from edibles.

  12. - Trolling Troll - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:03 am:

    I’m sure once big pharma figured out how to corner the market on THC it will be legal everywhere.

  13. - A guy - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:07 am:

    We’re getting closer all the time. Med Mar will help ease the way. It’s not just the taxes that will help (and predictably this state will be super greedy when that time comes). It’s the reduction in prison costs. We’ll be attacking both sides of the equation. That’s the most rapid way to solve problems; attack both sides.

  14. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:09 am:

    I can support legalization of mildly harmful drugs with some conditions.
    1. State distribution with absolute bans on advertising other than saying where drugs can be legally purchased.
    2. Changes to law allowing tests to determine levels of drugs in the system for drivers and workers.
    3. Prohibition on public consumption outside of designated areas.

    I don’t want marketing to increase use, more impaired drivers and workers, or people accidentally getting high from second hand smoke.

  15. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:09 am:

    ==Why are you siding with criminals?==

    Now Rich, let’s not be too hasty. Perhaps they just have a….. erm, lucrative small business, and is opposed to the government picking winners and losers in the marketplace? I know my local, uh….. retailer, uses the same argument. /s

  16. - Generation X - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:12 am:

    100% Agree and to Saluki it now comes in many non smoke forms. This State could use the tax revenue and jobs.

    While I’m dreaming legalize sports betting too

  17. - Payback - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:12 am:

    Saluki- If you believe that marijuana smoking is harmful, then don’t smoke it. Are you sure you attended Carbongdale, by the way? You seem very uptight about this. I thought Carbs was a party town.

    Check the hallways at the Capitol and I bet the resistance to legalization comes from the police unions. Even Heather Steans decriminalization bill allows localities to lump on fines for possession and require drug treatment classes! That’s the small town good old boy element of Reps. in concert with the cop unions. They don’t want to let go of this.

    They say that marijuana is a “gateway drug.” That’s totally true in one sense. A minor marijuana arrest or seizure by the cops has been the beginning of the police/prison pipeline for millions of teenagers for the last forty years.

  18. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:15 am:

    Fun fact: For the last 23 years, every President of the United States has been a recreational marijuana user.

    And don’t expect that trend to be interrupted this year.

    – MrJM

  19. - Collinsville Kevin - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:17 am:

    Rauner, Cullerton and Madigan can’t even pass a budget, so don’t hold your breath! I always said Illinois will have legal weed right after Mississippi does.

  20. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:17 am:

    ===legalization of mildly harmful drugs===

    Fentanyl killed Prince and Michael Jackson. It’s a legal drug. Very harmful.

  21. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:18 am:

    “adolescents already report that marijuana is widely available”

    It’s been this way for decades.

    This very much exemplifies the failure of the drug war, and why we should change models from something that is so futile and destructive to something from which we will gain benefits: jobs, revenue, avoidance of criminal charges, freedom, etc.

    The freedom aspect is something I believe is a strong argument for legalization. Why should responsible adults be punished in different ways by doing something that’s less harmful than alcohol? That’s been an issue for many people for years, and it’s good to see progress in reform efforts.

  22. - SKI - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:22 am:

    “I agree with Rich. Tax it, regulate it. Allow employers to discipline for use of it as they do alcohol, Set legal limits for driving. Teens will be less likely to get it. Cartels will suffer serious damage.”

    There is really no way to ’set legal limits for driving’ with marijuana. That is probably one of my main issues. For alcohol you have a limit if 0.08. For marijuana, how high is too high to drive? How would you test that especially since it stays in your system for weeks. How do you know from testing the guy you just pulled over that the results were from that day or two days ago? How are officers able to quickly make these judgement during traffic stops? You have a breathalyzer for alcohol. With marijuana you have to either take a urine, blood, or hair sample for analysis.

    Figure out a good system and I’m on board.

  23. - JS Mill - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:23 am:

    Easiest substance for kids to get these days is prescription opiates. Doctors prescribe them like they are Pez and parents do not safeguard them from kids.

    Legalizing Pot is a good thing.

  24. - Amalia - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:26 am:


  25. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:26 am:

    Legal drugs can be dangerous and misused. Those are supposed to be controlled through prescriptions and medical monitoring.

    Alcohol is not a prescribed drug and neither would be recreational marijuana. I do not want to have the argument stretch to things like Meth.

    I also have a concern about the effect on children in the womb. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a real problem. We accept the damage done by alcohol because we decided the damages caused by suppression were greater.

    When we legalize recreational drugs, just try to reduce the collateral damage.

  26. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:27 am:

    Saluki, you’re making an argument that marijuana shouldn’t be smoked. The point is, that horse has already left the barn. Your message is fine in the context of prevention programs but not for the millions of people already using it. All Rich is saying is since people are already using it and that’s not going to change; legalize it for the tax revenues and to remove the criminal element from transactions. There weren’t huge numbers of people who gave up cigarettes because of the warning labels tobacco companies were required to include on packages. It’s only when the cost became prohibitive that people starting quitting in droves.

  27. - JB13 - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:29 am:

    Yep, legalize it. And tax the, um, smoke out of it, right out of the gate. You want to use it? Pay up. Also, legalization should include fines for anyone caught buying it on the black market, and big time fines, plus jail time, for anyone caught selling it on the black market.

  28. - Biker - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:29 am:

    In looking to how other states legalized or created a wide enough med-mar net to be defacto legalized, it appears to be almost exclusively by way of referendum. We have access to this tool in Illinois. And this way our elected representatives don’t need to do anything but stay out of the way. Any chance we can convince the obstruction machine to not try to kill a refer-endum?

  29. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    ===It’s only when the cost became prohibitive that people starting quitting in droves===

    Meh. The downward spiral started when the negative PR began in earnest. Cost is a factor, sure, but make the cost too high and you send the trade underground, as is happening in Chicago.

  30. - Homer J. Quinn - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:31 am:

    last bull moose: meth is schedule 2, so it’s already slightly more legal than cannabis. and it is commonly prescribed; adderall is a combination of amphetimines.

  31. - @MisterJayEm - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:35 am:

    “There is really no way to ’set legal limits for driving’ with marijuana. *** You have a breathalyzer for alcohol.”

    Driving Under the Influence convictions were secured prior to the advent of the Breathalyzer, and are even now secured in instances where drivers are impaired by prescription drugs.

    Even though preliminary breath testing hadn’t yet been invented in 1933, ending the prohibition on alcohol was the right thing to do. And ending marijuana prohibition is the right thing to do today.

    – MrJM

  32. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:53 am:

    ===Meh. The downward spiral started when the negative PR began in earnest. Cost is a factor, sure, but make the cost too high and you send the trade underground, as is happening in Chicago.===

    Yep, you’re right Rich. Should’ve done some research before commenting. According to several studies, the cost of cigarettes is just the sixth out of ten most important reasons people listed for giving up smoking.

  33. - A Jack - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 10:59 am:

    There isn’t a test for texting while driving either, which arguably is the more deadly activity.

  34. - Rich Miller - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:09 am:

    ===arguably is the more deadly activity===

    Nothing arguable about it. It is.

    The problem with pot smokers is they drive too slow. /s

  35. - kevin highland - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:10 am:

    Colorado seems to have the “Driving While High” issue figured out:

  36. - Last Bull Moose - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:14 am:

    Homer J. Quinn, drugs controlled through prescription are not the focus here. What drugs do we want available without prescription? What should we have in place to reduce collateral damage?

  37. - LizPhairTax - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:17 am:

    Anecdotal/observed experience, take it for what it’s worth:

    You can tax this product at an absurd rate and get very few complaints if the quality of the product and the purchase experience are, um, high.

    There’s a point where you get diminishing returns because if the total cost is too high people get pushed back underground but if you exit poll (I don’t recommend this) people walking out of legal shops in WA, OR, and CO about the taxes they just paid I bet they’d say “whatever”

  38. - Excessively Rabid - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:18 am:

    Please, while we’re waiting for pot to be legalized, could we just legalize industrial hemp production? It’s a highly useful, environmentally sound crop that can be grown on marginal land. One of the geezers where I come from still has his permit stamp from 1942, so he’s good to go.

  39. - Federalist - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:25 am:

    “Let’s legalize it so we can stamp out the rampant criminal involvement the way we did with alcohol and video poker machines.”

    It’s certainly worth a try but it need to be monitored and objective research conducted in the near future.

  40. - Enviro - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:27 am:

    Governor Rauner used his veto to amend the marijuana decriminalization bill, allowing those caught with up to 10 grams to be fined $100- $200.

    I think that Governor Rauner made a good decision.

  41. - There They're Their - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:27 am:

    Rich, you need a “like” button. If you had one, I would like this post.

  42. - A guy - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:35 am:

    I”m picking up a scent from that pontoon boat. lol

  43. - Homer J. Quinn - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:37 am:

    last bull moose: you said you didn’t want this to extend to meth, i was pointing out that it already does.

    as far as what should be available, i would start by legalizing all plants. alcohol being more dangerous than any of them, the safeguards we have in place for alcohol use are already sufficient.

  44. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:38 am:

    ==Governor Rauner used his veto to amend the marijuana decriminalization bill, allowing those caught with up to 10 grams to be fined $100- $200==

    Huh? Where did you see this? As far as I know, he hasn’t yet acted on the bill

  45. - Chicago_Downstater - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:42 am:

    I’m all for legalize and tax. However, I doubt legalizing marijuana will increase or decrease pot use in kids.

    I’m guessing kids who want it if it’s legal will just get it the way they get alcohol now (i.e. get it from home or that “cool” older guy down the street).

    Still plenty of good reasons to legalize it (i.e. dry up a funding source for gangs & fewer folks in jails). But reducing teenage use isn’t one of them.

  46. - NoGifts - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:48 am:

    I’ve been told that high people are too lazy to drive. LOL

  47. - Keyser Soze - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:53 am:

    Legalize it. I’ve been saying that for years. Not only will it cause some drug dealers to find honest work but it will also give a boost to the snack food industry.

  48. - ChicagoVinny - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 11:55 am:

    Legalize it. Pot is only a gateway drug to snacks.

  49. - Jeff Trigg - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:07 pm:

    Biker - No, we can’t put a cannabis legalization referendum on the ballot in Illinois, only the GA can do that. Call you Rep & Senator.

    Half of cannabis sales in Colorado are for edibles. A good chunk of the flower sales are probably vaporized, so right off the bat legalization has reduced those that smoke cannabis to less than 50% of users. If we could research cannabis like they do in Israel we might find that cannabis actually reduces the chance of lung cancer as preliminary studies seem to indicate.

    Roosevelt U & the ACLU did a study a while back on how much Illinois spends on cannabis prohibition enforcement. They figured around $200 million was spent on cannabis enforcement each year in the state. That isn’t chump change. Combine that $200 million with tax revenues and you’ve got a good start to some yearly pensions payments.

    If someone is driving erratically or causes an accident, give them a ticket. If they aren’t, why were they pulled over in the first place? They already have the use of field sobriety checks for all kinds of other legal prescription drugs to check impairment. Colorado has seen a reduction in their drunk driving rates since cannabis legalization and I doubt that is a coincidence.

    Industrial hemp is a no-brainer and it amazes me that it still isn’t legal to produce in Illinois. Johnson Controls in Indiana used to import hemp from Canada to make car door panels for the Chrysler Sebring. Hemp is lighter, stronger, and more fire resistant than plastic. Paper products, boxes, hemp oils, hemp seeds, clothing and fibers are a few of the products we could easily grow and produce in Illinois. Those are jobs and tax revenues just thrown away because the police say they are too stupid to tell the difference between industrial hemp and recreational pot.

    But more than all that, where is the evidence that our current drug war policies are actually doing more good than harm? Most of the evidence suggests the drug war is doing a lot more harm than good, from the murderous drug cartels importing it from south of our border to the murderous street thugs selling it, to the ruining of families that get caught up in the legal system because of it.

  50. - frisbee - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:12 pm:

    An important item to note is that states that are first movers with legalization stand to gain much more than states that wait like IL did with medical cannabis (21st state with mmj and almost 20 years after CA). California will likely legalize it this November and what those folks had the foresight to do was to make the tax be by weight instead of sales price. This is important because as more states legalize it the prices will likely drop. California is likely going to go with $50 per ounce if i recall. Keep an eye on how much legalization of cannabis in California impacts the Mexican cartels and what Obama does from November until January.

    IL should have legalization by the time that the MCPP is now set to expire in 2020, although someone told me that Rep. Lang recently said he thought legalization would hurt patients in IL. Not sure how he came to that conclusion because if legalization happened tomorrow prices would dramatically drop in Illinois, which is one of the most common complaints patients have other than the onerous application process and lack of doctors supporting medical cannabis.

  51. - Ghost - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:17 pm:

    not to mention tax revenue and money saved not having to enforce and imprison. huge win all around

  52. - FormerParatrooper - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    I need a heads up before it is legalized… I am saving up for a uhaul worth of Cheetos to sell at the celebration.

  53. - Enviro - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:20 pm:

    Anon @ 11:38am

    Here is the link:

  54. - Sigh - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:21 pm:

    The industrial hemp research rules are on the JCAR agenda for August. I know there is a difference between research and legalization, but it’s a step in the right direction.

  55. - Anonymous - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 12:36 pm:

    Enviro, that’s last year’s bill, not the current pending one

  56. - Enviro - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 1:34 pm:

    Here is the updated bill…still decriminalization not legalization:

  57. - Ron - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 1:52 pm:

    Absolutely legalize it. And other drugs too. I can get any drug I want with a simple call. And money of course.

  58. - Pius - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 2:13 pm:

    “Rich Miller at 11:09″
    Best comment of the day! Lol!

  59. - downstate hack - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 2:18 pm:

    Legalize t now and then put a heavy tax on candy, cookies and other snacks. New revenue and more fun for Illinois.

  60. - Excessively Rabid - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 3:19 pm:

    ==The industrial hemp research rules are on the JCAR agenda for August. ==

    Thank you.

  61. - Cubs in '16 - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 3:36 pm:

    ===I’ve been told that high people are too lazy to drive. LOL===

    Not when there’s a munchies run to be made. Drive-through of course…

  62. - Mama - Friday, Jul 29, 16 @ 4:25 pm:

    Is it true people can still be arrested and thrown in jail if they have more than 10oz on them? Now the cops will have to start carrying a scale with them to weigh the pot.

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