* Chris Kennedy was on WBEZ this morning. This exchange begins around the 20:25 mark…
WBEZ: Certainly our finances here in Illinois are a huge issue and there have been a lot of discussions about ways to bring in some more money. One of them is legalizing marijuana, to do what perhaps Colorado has been able to do. Where do you stand on legalizing pot?
KENNEDY: I wouldn’t legalize pot as simply a way to balance our budget. I mean, we’re not a failed state. Gov. Quinn, with a slightly higher income tax, was able to balance the budget, make payments that are currently due under the pension program and pay down outstanding payables. And if… Gov. Quinn could do that, Gov. Rauner ought to be able to do it as well. It’s not beyond our grasp to balance the budget on the economy that we have in our state, but Gov. Rauner’s got such a stranglehold by not allowing us to have a budget that he’s repelling the very economic development activities that should be naturally occurring in our state.
WBEZ: So if not using legalization of pot for those purposes, would you still be supportive of legalizing marijuana just in general?
KENNEDY: I’d say this: I’m a big believer in science and the medical profession. I would take my cues from them. I do think we should understand what the long-term outcomes are in places like Colorado before we embrace, say … embrace massive change like legalization of marijuana. But if the studies indicate that we have no worse outcome, then I would follow the science on that. But, you know, we haven’t figured out what to do with the massive opioid epidemic that’s hollowing out our communities, that’s destroying the lives of young people and for which we have no clear answer. There’s no protocol. Every town doesn’t handle this the same way. Every family doesn’t handle it the same way. We have very few beds in Illinois to deal with the opioid crisis or a methodology to put people on the path to recovery, and I think before we introduce yet another drug into the lives of our young people and, I guess the full population as well, we ought to understand what we’re getting ourselves into.
Lots of words.