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Hearing features testimony from Colorado “pot czar”

Thursday, Apr 20, 2017

* Tribune

As the czar of Colorado’s marijuana program, Barbara Brohl says she is neither pro- nor anti-pot.

But she believes the legal market for the drug is eating into the black market, funding drug abuse treatment and prevention and providing a safer product.

The roughly $200 million in tax revenue from more than $1 billion in sales last year funds all that, she says, plus provides $40 million for schools.

Brohl spoke Wednesday to a panel of Illinois lawmakers considering a proposal to make marijuana use legal in the state. While sponsors say the bill won’t get a vote this legislative session, they’re beginning a series of hearings on how to craft the law.

* Sun-Times

It’s legal for people over 21 in Colorado to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, which is readily available in dedicated shops throughout the state.

Colorado, she said, has three main marijuana guide posts when it come to policy making: preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, preventing the involvement of criminal enterprises and preventing the diversion of legalized marijuana to other states.

* DNAInfo on the Illinois proposal

Under the recreational law, Illinois residents could possess up to an ounce of pot and five plants. Nonresidents could possess half an ounce. The bill would impose a $50 per ounce tax on pot at the wholesale level, while sales to the public would be subject to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax.

Businesses producing marijuana for sale would be bound by labeling requirements and marketing restrictions.

The revenue from marijuana sales would be earmarked for schools as well as treatment and education programs about the dangers of marijuana, alcohol and tobacco.

* ABC 7

“Getting this out of the illegal market, taking some of those dealers off our streets, restricting access by youth, these are all really good reasons to do it, over and above the financial benefit,” said State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (IL-14), co-sponsor.

And the financial benefit could be huge: according to estimates, up to $700 million dollars in tax money if marijuana was legal in the state.

Legal marijuana is heavily taxed: There’s a 28% tax in Colorado and a 37% tax In Washington. In Oregon, the tax ranges between 17% and 20%, depending on the city and county. Growers, processors, retailers and buyers all pay taxes. Medical marijuana tends to be cheaper than recreational because it is taxed at a lower rate. In the past year, Colorado has received nearly $200 million in tax revenue from over $1 billion in marijuana sales. […]

“They shouldn’t be going to make illegal narcotics legal just to balance the budget,” said Chief Tom Weitzel, Riverside Police.

Well, they should also make it legal because people are sick and tired of the state locking people up in steel cages for using a plant.

* Fox Chicago

A former Drug Enforcement Administrator predicted legalization here would cause 75 additional marijuana-related highway deaths each year.

“Terrible idea! It’s a disaster waiting to happen in Illinois. It’s gonna increase damage to youth. It’s gonna increase highway accidents and fatalities,” said Peter Bensinger, former director of the DEA.

* But

An official from Colorado claimed legalization did not bring a big increase in the number of regular users.

“We have a healthy kids Colorado survey. We’re not seeing an increase or a change in youth use or even really adult use. There are some differences up and down throughout the years. But it’s not statistically significant,” said Barbara Brohl of the Colorado Department of Revenue.

* The last word

As the nearly two-year-long budget stalemate leaves Illinois with little revenue, Steans and Cassidy said they see their bills as a way to create a new source of revenue for the state that would provide funding for schools and drug prevention and treatment programs.

“The numbers speak for themselves,” Steans said. “Taxing legalized recreational marijuana would have a huge impact on the state both in the form of new revenue and in job creation. Last year alone, 18,000 jobs were created in Colorado due to the marijuana industry.”

…Adding… From the BND

The News-Democrat recently surveyed state representatives and senators from the metro-east, asking where they stand on the issue. Only three of them provided replies.

▪ Sen. Paul Schimpf, R-Waterloo: “I am still undecided on the issue. I am carefully considering both sides of the argument.”

▪ Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon: “Medical marijuana, owned by lobbyists, became decriminalization last year, and now it’s legalizing pot for recreation under the guise of a budget solution. I will not lead Illinois on this radical path to exchange good sense and morality for pain, suffering and corruption.”

▪ Sen. Bill Haine, D-Alton: “Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is not something we should pursue at this time. The medical marijuana program is still unfolding and we need to fine-tune it before we can take the next step. I also don’t think this is where our time and energy needs to be spent right now. We need to be negotiating with the governor to get a balanced budget.”

Um, when two-thirds of voters support something, is it really a “radical” idea?


* Related…

* CBS poll: Marijuana legalization support at all-time high at 61 percent nationwide

* The Exhaustive List Of Everyone Who’s Died Of A Marijuana Overdose

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:44 am:

    Hurry up. Colorado is getting some of that revenue from out-of-state users. Some short-run budget help would be nice, if Illinois legalizes it a few years before neighboring states do.

  2. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    Comical from McCarter. Pain and suffering is what you get when you lock people up for using a plant that can relieve serious pain.

    I guess he’d rather Illinoisans continue to die of opioid addiction.

  3. - Homer J. Quinn - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:49 am:

    Sounds like bill haine wants a primary Challenger.

  4. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:52 am:

    For Pete’s sake it’s a plant, it grows wild in nature. And some people’s basements.

  5. - Stark - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:52 am:

    Haine’s statement is the weakest sauce. Obvious he only cares about his re-election and isn’t even hiding it. What a public servant. /s

  6. - Homer J. Quinn - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:53 am:

    And allowing law enforcement agencies to have the final word on what medicines are legal is an ongoing disaster, not one “in the waiting.”

  7. - A guy - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    Kyle is a perfect guy to put into a focus group to test it. He’s a classic example of someone who would sound a lot smarter after half a dube or so.

  8. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    “I am still undecided on the issue”

    That’s code for I’m on the wrong side of this but I’m still holding out hope that public opinion shifts my way soon.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    I ding Sen. McCarter often, on many subjects.

    Specifically to this very narrow subject, I give him a wide berth, and respect his position, as his position on these matters.

  10. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    “They shouldn’t be going to make illegal narcotics legal just to balance the budget,”

    Since when is marijuana a narcotic?

  11. - Anonin-aint-easy - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:56 am:

    Legalization makes so much sense it’s mind numbing when elected officials say they don’t support it. I will give some points to the elected officials who are honest about not supporting it for “moral reasons”. the ones who say we need more data are a cowards trying to avoid saying no so they don’t get criticized.

    Hey Rich, who would you say are the biggest groups opposed to this?

  12. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 11:59 am:

    “Pot Dude/Dudette” would be a way better name for that job title.

  13. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:01 pm:

    I smoked pot over 30 years ago and could polish off a ‘lid’ within a few weeks. I tried it a few months ago, and IMHO an ounce of legal pot (as opposed to ditch weed) is ALOT of high times. I cannot imagine how MMJ users go thru 6 ounces and retain a semblance of reality. But if it helps severe pain, good!
    Also, as pot becomes mainstream, more and more people will grow there own, and income projections may be incorrect.

  14. - EVanstonian - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:02 pm:

    Why should the sales tax on marijuana be lower than the sales tax on tobacco?

  15. - frisbee - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:04 pm:

    Bensinger should be supporting legalization because jobs would still test for it until the feds change the scheduling and his drug testing firm would stand to make lots more money.

  16. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    We all know that many cop shops and DEA get fat on the un-American asset forfeiture scam when it comes to weed, correct? They, along with criminals, have a financial interest in continuing the mindless Prohibition.

  17. - SinkingShip - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    ===“They shouldn’t be going to make illegal narcotics legal just to balance the budget,” said Chief Tom Weitzel, Riverside Police.===

    What a thoughtful, evidence-based statement from a true intellectual. /s

  18. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:16 pm:

    Yeah, McCarter, you really have the moral high ground on anything.

  19. - FormerParatrooper - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:18 pm:

    I am curious about what Colorado and other States have done about jobs that require drug testing? Even if marijuana is legalized by the State, can a employer still fire you for failing a drug test? What about employers with federal contracts that require drug testing?. How would an jobsite accident be handled if the employee had marijuana in thier system? Is there a threshold for what is an acceptable amount on the drug test?

    I think these issues need sorted out as well.

  20. - JS Mill - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    =I will not lead Illinois on this radical path to exchange good sense and morality for pain, suffering and corruption.=

    But causing pain by supporting the destruction of the social services safety net is cool with you?

    They also need to consider legalizing hemp cultivation. It can be very lucrative and it is a great low-impact renewable crop with many uses.

  21. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:25 pm:

    Happy 4/20 Day!

    To the post:

    “Under the recreational law, Illinois residents could possess up to an ounce of pot and five plants.”

    Don’t people see the economic potential? Five plants per person means home growing supplies will be sold. That’s grow lights, soil, hydroponics, seeds, fertilizers, ducts, fans, chambers, etc. These sales are an addition to the economic growth that dispensaries will bring.

    Also, responsible adult marijuana consumers should no longer be criminalized and stigmatized.

    Legalization to me is a high-priority issue. I hope it’s a high-priority issue for the state, so that politicians who oppose legalization can be primaried wherever possible.

  22. - cdog - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:26 pm:

    Happy 420 Day :)

    We are getting close to accomplishing what should be a personal freedom.

    How has liquor lobby behaved in other states? They will probably throw the kitchen sink at this.

  23. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:27 pm:

    === Even if marijuana is legalized by the State, can a employer still fire you for failing a drug test?===

    Alcohol is legal and an employer can fire you for coming to work drunk.

  24. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    ===Legalization to me is a high-priority issue.===

    Pun intended? lol

  25. - Jimmy H - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    - Wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Exactly as Wordslinger stated. I would add that the politicians are beholden to the prison-industrial complex too.

  26. - It's time - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:28 pm:

    It’s time to do this already. Government sanctions and regulates use of commodities with much more damaging and long-term effects that cannabis.

    Furthermore, we need revenue, sustainable revenue.

  27. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    ===Alcohol is legal and an employer can fire you for coming to work drunk.===

    True but having pot in your system doesn’t mean you’re high as it metabolizes much slower than alcohol.

  28. - Saluki - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Its amazing this bad of an idea has gotten as far as it has.

  29. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    Poe’s Law — without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers or viewers as a sincere expression of the parodied views.

    Crack pots like Kyle McCarter are the reason Poe’s Law exists.

    – MrJM

  30. - TheGoodLieutenant - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    ===Its amazing this bad of an idea has gotten as far as it has.===

    I find it amazing that such fervent opposition to this long overdue reform still exists.

  31. - Give Me A Break - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:49 pm:

    I’m no fan of McCarter, but some of you people need to layoff hitting him, he has valid reason for his thoughts on this.

  32. - North Shore Joe - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    In my experience, if anything, pot actually improved my driving skills. Honestly.

  33. - illinoised - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:17 pm:

    Have a Willie nice day, everybody. Legalize it, tax it.

    Where do these opponents get their information, Reefer Madness?

  34. - Vole - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:20 pm:

    I commend the sponsors of this proposed legislation for their deliberative approach. There is much that Illinois can learn from the states that are in the process of regulated legalization and taxation. Not attempting to push this through one legislative term is wise.

    A few questions/comments:
    1. How does the possession of 1 oz. jive with the growing of up to 6 plants in Colorado, 3 of which can be mature? I assume that the yield from 3 plants can be several ounces. Some of Colorado’s laws are very dependent on self enforcement so if the laws are illogical or contradictory, how does this work?
    2. Would Illinois residents growing a few plants self report and pay the state taxes on their own grows? If revenue is a chief goal of legalization, growing several years of supply from a few plants ain’t gonna be putting much jack in Springpatch.
    3. How does Illinois keep the huge warehouse operations growing for the very limited medical marijuana market in Illinois from dominating any future recreational market?
    4. How does the state regulate an industry that utilizes pesticides unlabeled for marijuana protect the consumers of its products? If the federal government and the chemical manufacturers do not cooperate in the testing and labeling process, how can the states? Buyer beware? (more incentive to grow your own)

  35. - Threepwood - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    “he has valid reason for his thoughts on this”

    Which are? I mean, if you’re going to cite them in his defense…

    I’m particularly curious since I’m wondering what objections could be mutually agreed as valid here. It seems to me nearly all of the disagreement traces back to factual claims, however influenced those may be by personal biases.

  36. - Vole - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:42 pm:

    North Shore: The state police will have to develop a test for enhanced driving.

  37. - anon2 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:47 pm:

    So legalization will keep marijuana out of the hands of teens? Just like beer, I suppose.

  38. - anon2 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    === Why should the sales tax on marijuana be lower than the sales tax on tobacco? ===

    Because cigarettes are addictive and cause more harm to smokers and those who live with smokers.

  39. - Jerry 101 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    An important aspect of the Colorado experience that I haven’t seen mentioned here is the level of local control in Colorado.

    Before a City or County (for unincorporated areas) can allow marijuana businesses to be opened within their borders, they have to have a ballot measure pass to allow it. Not all cities and counties allow marijuana businesses.

    Cities and counties also have power over the number of licenses they’ll allow for different types of marijuana businesses (retail, manufacture of marijuana products, grow houses, etc). They have power over zoning, over operating hours, all sorts of stuff.

    Most importantly, local governments can impose their own taxes on marijuana businesses (plus they share in the state revenues).

    There are overarching state laws and regulations, but local governments also have power to regulate the business side of things.

    The substance itself is legal statewide, but communities have power over how much of a presence it has in their community.

  40. - Jerry 101 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 2:01 pm:

    anon2 - legalization won’t keep marijuana entirely out of the hands of teens, but if the black market is crowded out by the legal market, it will become much more difficult for teens to get their hands on the substance. Black market dealers aren’t going to care how old a customer is, but a dispensary will, as they could suffer significant consequences for selling to an underage customer.

    FormerParatrooper - In Colorado, when it comes to employment matters, I don’t think much of anything is different from how things are in most states. There was a court case involving a Medical Marijuana user who lost his job over a drug test, and the user lost his case. If you work in a drug free workplace and if it has testing, and you are subject to a test that shows marijuana in your system, then yes, you can lose your job.

    I don’t partake, in part, for that very reason. While I’ve never been tested, there’s a first time for everything.

  41. - @misterjayem - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 2:10 pm:

    Happy 420 Day :)

    Chicagoans interested in celebrating the music of “pain, suffering and corruption” should head over to the Hideout tonight for the triple album-release show for Dark Fog, Bionic Cavemen, and The Velcro Lewis Group.

    The bands are all swell fellas who play terrific music, and the H/O is a place where even squares can have a ball.

    – MrJM

  42. - anon2 - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    Jerry 101
    You contend legalization would better keep marijuana out of the hands of young people. Would you say that has worked well with alcohol?

  43. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    ===Would you say that has worked well with alcohol? ===

    Did bootleggers check ID’s?


  44. - Vole - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    Assuming the yield of one plant could be several ounces, can anyone explain how a possession limit of one oz. jives with the legal authority to grow 5 or 6 plants?

  45. - Just Observing - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    === Also, as pot becomes mainstream, more and more people will grow there own, and income projections may be incorrect. ===

    How much does brew your own beer at home kits eat into commercial sales? How much does growing your own carrots in your home garden eat into carrot sales at the grocery store? Probably not a lot. People have limits on time, technical skills, and startup costs — it’s easier just to go into a store and buy.

  46. - Just Observing - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 3:21 pm:

    I can’t believe it’s 2017 and we still debating if marijuana should be legal or not.

  47. - Threepwood - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 3:37 pm:


    How could we even know? I seriously doubt reliable data on youth drinking is available from that era, and even if it were, it’d probably be loaded with confounders, given all the cultural, economic and technological changes. And how would we judge “well”? By what measures? What was it worth to push methanol and Jake out of the market? I sure hope someone has been collecting tons of good data in the legalizing states.

    Understand, I’m not saying you’re wrong. I don’t know. But I do know that “just look at what X is like now!” is not particularly informative without context. And that’s if it’s even useful to compare youth consumption of booze and weed, which I think is also uncertain.

  48. - frisbee - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 3:47 pm:

    Vole- 1oz is what you can buy, harvest weight of your crop is legal in your home is my understanding.

  49. - 33rd Ward - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 4:42 pm:

    Sadly this won’t happen yet even in broke Illinois.

    I ask one question: Has any State that legalized (all 8 of them) regretted it yet for even a minute?

    If the answer is “no”–and you know it is–then what on earth is Illinois really waiting for?

  50. - Payback - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 9:03 pm:

    “They shouldn’t be going to make illegal narcotics legal just to balance the budget,” said Chief Tom Weitzel, Riverside Police.

    Narcotics are all derivatives of the opium poppy, so unelected cop Tom Wetzel is living in an (opium) pipe dream if he thinks marijuana is a “narcotic.” (Cue the Dragnet theme music: Duh tu Duh, Duh tu Duh Duh Duh..) Or maybe that’s what it sounds like inside Wetzel’s cranium when he tries to think.

    When is Illinois going to have a law that requires a minimum bachelor’s degree for police, so we can have some brainpower in the courtroom along with the lawyers, prosecutors, and judges making decisions about people’s lives?

  51. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 20, 17 @ 10:02 pm:

    Why don’t we let Judge Doug decide?

  52. - Juliann Piurkowski - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 1:04 am:

    I wanted to start making some money off of my blog, how would I go about doing so? What about google adsense or other programs like it?.

  53. - Jerry 101 - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 9:38 am:

    Yes, it has. It’s a lot harder for underage folks to get their hands on alcohol than it is for them to get their hands on marijuana. That’s been true since I was a teenager, many moons ago.

    Can teens get alcohol? Yes. But it’s a lot easier to just go ask that guy who looks like he’s a stoner to hook you up.

  54. - Illinoisan - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 10:20 am:

    Haha. I like McCarter’s “owned by lobbyists” comment. The IL medcann lobby has zero pull anywhere.

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