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Pro-legalization group wants “feedback”

Wednesday, Apr 12, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* It would be fascinating to see what sort of support this bill would get if they’d just put it up on the big board. But they’re the ones doing the counting, not me, so subject matter only hearings is all we’ll likely get this year…

Feedback from community groups, advocacy organizations, public safety officers, medical professionals and the public will be pivotal in shaping efforts to legalize recreational marijuana in Illinois. At a press conference today, State Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) announced plans to hold the first subject matter hearing on the topic at 12 p.m. Wednesday, April 19, in the Bilandic building.

“Rep. Cassidy and I are committed to gathering feedback about how legalizing recreational marijuana would affect the state from a large variety of interest groups,” Steans said. “We have received overwhelming support for this legislation but do not plan to move forward hastily. We want to ensure that there is ample time for organizations and individuals to present testimony and for us to adjust the legislation based on information presented in hearings.”

Barbara Brohl, the executive director of Colorado’s Department of Revenue will testify on how legalizing recreational marijuana has affected Colorado during the first hearing on this subject. Karmen Hanson, the program director of the Health Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures, will also testify on what other states have done around legalizing marijuana.

“Senator Steans and I strongly believe that it’s time that Illinois had a new drug policy,” Cassidy said. “Legalizing recreational marijuana will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars to the state. We’re discussing all sorts of proposals to end the budget impasse, and we thought this should be part of the conversation as well.”

The Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy organization devoted to ending marijuana prohibition, has estimated that legalizing recreational marijuana would generate between $350 million and $700 million in new revenue for the state of Illinois. Under the Steans-Cassidy proposals, the revenue would go to support the State Board of Education; treatment and education programs about marijuana, alcohol and tobacco; and the state’s General Revenue Fund.

Currently, six groups and organizations have come out in support of the legislation due to the fiscal impact it would have on the state and their belief that Illinois needs a new drug policy.

“It is time for Illinois to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, a spokesperson for the Coalition for a Safer Illinois, a newly formed alliance of doctors, law enforcement, clergy and other organizations committed to updating marijuana legislation in Illinois. “Our current policy causes more harm to the individual and society than cannabis consumption, and a majority of Illinois voters are ready for a better approach. We believe these bills are exactly what Illinois needs.”

The coalition has a new website. Click here.

* Brian Gaughan, a former cop and a current crusader against the drug war was at today’s press conference. Gaughan lives in Chicago and had this to say to reporters

It’s time that we put law enforcement working solving crimes instead of going after people who have a plant. There’s enough violent crime that’s actually fueled by illicit cannabis purchases. That money now goes to street gangs and drug cartels and fighting for territory is one of the main reasons we see such a high level of street crime in Chicago.

Walgreen’s and Costco managers won’t shoot at each other over weed territory or sell that product to kids.

Background on Gaughan is here.


  1. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 10:49 am:

    I support legalization of marijuana.

    Treat it like alcohol.

    Tax it like cigarettes or sugary drinks.

  2. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 10:50 am:

    Those hurt by the repeal of the Volstead Act were the likes of Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and the officials they corrupted with the money they made selling booze.

    They were the cartels and gang-bangers of their day.

  3. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    Legalize marijuana and tax it!!!! My friends who are cancer survivors thank you.

    (and while you are at it Legislature, HEMP for Good. legalize that too. get on the university research bandwagon so farmers can get seed and grow this useful crop that is in no way related to marijuana….cross pollination hurts marijuana……but is in every way related to the Founding Fathers who grew it and used it for our young nation.)

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    You have to admit that it’d be more poignant if they held the hearing on 4/20.

  5. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:00 am:

    I can tell you with certainty that not putting it on the board was the right decision. They wouldn’t have had the votes, and they really do believe they’ll get them in a year or two.

  6. - Bigtwich - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:06 am:

    Legalization is a great idea but passing a state law will not stimulate investment until the current US Attorney makes his position clear. see

  7. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    ==will not stimulate investment until the current US Attorney===

    Meh. California is proceeding apace.

    Also, the more states that legalize it, the harder it will be for the feds to crack down. Strength in numbers.

    And unless the AG can amend the US Constitution, federal law enforcement can’t stop any state from legalizing it.

  8. - TR - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:10 am:

    The Dems would be smart to wait and put this on the ballot as an advisory referendum next year to gin up turnout.

  9. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    Walgreen’s and Costco shooting at each other during a turf/drug war sounds like a lost “Chappelle Show” skit.

  10. - Out Here In The Middle - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    Unfortunately the Attorney General’s position is pretty clear. He may not be able to prevent state’s from legalizing but he can still prosecute federal crimes. I liked Dave Pell’s line from his email newsletter Next Draft - “America’s worst addiction is the war on drugs.”

  11. - Blood - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    CVS is where the real gangstas at.

  12. - Saluki - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Inhaling smoke to get high should obviously be a bad idea. But since there is tax money in it, and “it’s just as bad as alcohol” we must forge forward. I’ll never understand how this is a good idea.

  13. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:28 am:

    ===Inhaling smoke===

    This isn’t 1978 anymore Saluki. Have you ever heard of vaping? Edibles? There are more and more safe ways to ingest marijuana than smoking it.

  14. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    Saluki, what other behavior conducted by adults would you and the government like to stick your nose in and make criminal?

    Because if weed is one of them, I’m guessing you have a long list.

  15. - Perrid - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:33 am:

    Eh. Personally I think taking any substance until parts of your brain shut down is stupid, but then again so is drinking the Mountain Dew I just had, or the amount of time I spend on my computer. I’m fine with it staying illegal, and fine if they decide to make it legal. Though I’m gonna eat my popcorn and wait for Sessions or Trump to actually do something to enforce federal law. No matter how that turns out it’ll be fairly entertaining.

  16. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    = I’ll never understand how this is a good idea.=

    I take it you do not imbibe of spirits (which is cool by me) or smoke or otherwise use tobacco? Fair enough.

    Marijuana is no more and actually be less harmful than alcohol.

    Take this out of the hands of organized and disorganized crime and treat it like any other allowed vice.

  17. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:38 am:

    I really hope this takes off. I very much support legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana. I support expanding MMJ. Colorado pulled in over $1 billion last year in combined MMJ and recreational marijuana sales revenue, surpassing 2015. We have more than twice as many people as Colorado, so great potential exists.

    The tax revenue is also very much needed and welcome.

    If there’s great demand for products X and Y, and our neighbors refuse to sell those products, then it’s great to engage in that business. That’s where Illinois could be if it’s the only state in the Midwest who sells MMJ and recreational marijuana. That’s economic growth, and much better to me than right-wing Raunerite economics that have little or no growth potential, such as term limits, stripping collective bargaining and repealing the prevailing wage.

    I am concerned about Democrats having enough votes to pass a bill/override a veto, Rauner winnin’ again in 2018 and the Feds cracking down on states’ legal marijuana. But still, I want to believe there’s a chance and most definitely want to volunteer for a legalization campaign.

  18. - Homer J. Quinn - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    I, for one, enjoy saluki’s obligate trolling on this issue. It’s nice to have a contrast with the factual information from the rest of us.

  19. - Redbright - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:45 am:

    The tax in Colorado 21%. That could solve a lot of problems in Illinois short-term. *

    The answer to all question regarding “consequences” are readily available from the states with legalization.

    There are pot stores all over Denver yet you –as a visitor - might have a hard time finding them since they are designed to looked like the most boring insurance agent’s office ever.

    All you can see from the street is a small waiting room with a bored person sitting at a desk. I’ve only been inside one store past the waiting room. The sales room looked like it was designed to sell very expensive jewelry. I’m sure there are sales rooms that are less attractive but all are only accessible to people who can get past the front door clerk.

    *The real problem in Illinois is a 1970 Constitution written by people who assumed that the future would be like their past: the only people who would ever have a ‘real’ career and collect a significant pension were a very small set of white males.

    Thus, the generous pension in the Constitution would be financially meaningless. Plus, all those men had families to support because their wives would be home eating bon bons so they deserved the big dollars.

  20. - Foster brooks - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:46 am:

    The question is will employer’s adjust their drug policies?

  21. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    Good luck with that. Jeff Sessions *loves* the War on Drugs.

  22. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    I personally am OK with legalization, so long as part of the revenue is directed to social services for chronic (pardon the pun) users. Anyone who has been to Colorado recently would notice the number of folks living on the street under a cloud that have become “burnouts” for lack of a better term. Much like booze, legalize something and some people will use it constantly and to excess. In short, if the move is made to legalize recreational use, provision needs to be made to deal with the resulting social problems.

  23. - charles in charge - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:52 am:

    What does Jeff Sessions have to do with the Illinois General Assembly?

  24. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    This brings to mind the old Cheech and Chong routine except that is the Speaker and not Dave that is not here

  25. - XMIKISCARX - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    People are leaving this State by the Thousands. We are basically the new murder capital with violent crimes seemingly non-stop in Chicago. Let’s free our police up from chasing plants and stoned teenagers and put their attention where it needs to be. Lets stop wasting money on incarcerating marijuana offenders. This state needs something or people will just leaving. Illinois will be the new Detroit in a few short years. Legalization may be a stepping stone to turning this out of control situation around. So… legalize it? Or, we leave it.

  26. - JS Mill - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:07 pm:

    LP- remember when the Rauner’s said that Bruce didn’t have a social agenda?

    How is that working out?

  27. - Deft Wing - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:16 pm:

    Steans and Cassidy are working the bill/concept appropriately. They both know there’s no chance of passage now, that it’s a 1-3 year process most likely, and that lots of things have to fall into place — including far more public support — before it’s go time.

    It’ll happen sooner or later.

  28. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    Ron Burgundy: Sorry but those street people in Denver were here decades before pot was legal. Just like in San Francisco. Some places have always been attractive to societal drop-outs.

    I bet there are a lot more Chicago (per capita) but you don’t see them because they are camped out on the lowest levels of the New East Side. And down alleys. All the places the Chicago Police let them stay.

  29. - frisbee - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    The limited government types are going to have a pickle with this one. Glad to see the ACLU is part of the coalition.

  30. - Tom - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    First off I am NO dealer or user or medical patient. I tried it in high school, once and it wasn’t my thing. Now having said that, I really don’t have a problem with other adults using it. I do see it as a money making opportunity for the state of IL and small business startups possibly.
    When I was out in Colorado, I saw a lot of, what I would call “Marijuana Tourism” so you’d already have a demand, I’m sure even here in IL.
    Again not my thing but I don’t see it as “evil” or a giant problem except the amount of $ police spend wasting time chasing it when they probably have a million other more productive things they’d rather do. Of course, it goes without saying that some cops don’t feel that way while other do fell exactly that way.
    So in this case, I play devil advocate and root for the “bad” guy: I say Legal pot for those adults who want it. I still won’t use but it’s silly to keep wasting time and $ on it when there are way worse, addictive drugs out there.

  31. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    === Anyone who has been to Colorado recently would notice the number of folks living on the street under a cloud that have become “burnouts” for lack of a better term.===

    I was in Denver not long ago. The homeless problem is about what you’d see in any major city.

  32. - A Jack - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:40 pm:

    The Feds can only get involved if it’s an interstate issue. As long as weed is manufactured and consumed in the state where it is legalized, the Feds cannot legally get involved without stomping on the U.S. Constitution.

  33. - Sgt. Rock - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    I’m fine with legalization and taxing. Not my thing, but I do fine Scotch instead, so why should I be the only one paying a ’sin tax’.

    Just one thing - my hot button - figure out the DWI problem:

  34. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    A Jack - “The Feds can only get involved if it’s an interstate issue.”

    See Gonzalez v. Raich, cannabis is always an interstate issue according to SCOTUS.

    I don’t believe any state legislature has legalized cannabis, it has always been legalized by referendum. I doubt Illinois will be the first. But if they do, it will probably be as convoluted and paranoid as the medical cannabis system they designed to make a few political insiders rich at the expense of sick patients.

  35. - Deb - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 1:08 pm:

    I think it’s a good idea because people in my area would buy it without having to sneak around like a bunch of crooks.

  36. - 13th - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    Maybe get the Gov and legislator to smoke or eat some and maybe we would get a budget passed

  37. - Collinsville Kevin - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 1:19 pm:

    Amen to your last paragraph Jeff. I always said Illinois would legalize pot, right after Mississippi and Alabama did. I thank the two legislators for at least bringing this forward, though.

  38. - Birdseed - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 1:25 pm:

    Feedback? Either light up or leave me alone.

  39. - anon2 - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 2:54 pm:

    === “It is time for Illinois to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol,” ===

    By all means, since alcohol regulation has worked so well to prevent underage drinking, fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, alcoholism, and alcohol-related violent crime.

  40. - anon2 - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 2:56 pm:

    “Both prohibtion and commercializaton have unwanted consequences.” ~ Professor Mark Kleiman
    A message for both sides in the debate.

  41. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 3:25 pm:

    ===By all means, since alcohol regulation has worked so well===

    So… You wanna make it illegal again? Lock people up in steel cages for drinking a beer? Really?

  42. - Amalia - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 4:47 pm:

    legalize it! Re 4/20 anyone know if the waffle cone burrito will be back at Ben and Jerry’s? awesome.

  43. - CEA - Wednesday, Apr 12, 17 @ 6:35 pm:

    I have no interest in growing or using marijuana. I have even less interest in seeing my tax payments used to arrest, prosecute and incarcarate those who do. Legalize it already.

  44. - Toker2k4 - Tuesday, Apr 18, 17 @ 1:44 pm:

    im glad the legalization thing is finally being looked at but i must admit im very skeptical as to it becoming a reality even tho polls suggest the majority of ppl in il are ready for it….god knows im one of them…prob is it seems to me that to many of the ppl in charge are stuck back in the 50’s and cling to the proganda and beliefs of that era and until they are voted out or move on not much will change in the way of legalization any time soon….sighs

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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