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Kennedy says it’s “dangerous” to embrace legalizing marijuana

Wednesday, Oct 4, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Chris Kennedy was asked last night during a candidate forum about his position on legalizing marijuana

KENNEDY: I’ve seen the crowd’s reaction on this, I’d like to take a pass on this one. [LAUGHTER]

MODERATOR: Are you sure?

KENNEDY: No but I think we are all struggling with the same issue, and I’m not going to take a shot at anybody and I certainly don’t mean to. I think it is dangerous to embrace a public health hazard simply because you want revenue.

That’s what I think. And that’s what makes, and I’m not aiming that at anybody. I’m cautious because we haven’t studied this issue thoroughly because the Republicans in the Congress in the House and the Senate have prevented the federal government from doing so. We have great research institutions in Illinois, nothing is going to happen under Gov. Rauner. We should challenge a place like Northern or U of I, UIC to study the effects, make an informed decision, defer to the scientists and the doctors and don’t let politicians make scientific decisions.

Now, in fairness, Sen. Daniel Biss said a few minutes earlier that he believed marijuana was a “public health problem” But, he said, “Let’s find a public health solution, not a criminal solution.”

* Video

* This is, by far, Kennedy’s harshest statements yet about pot. We’ve been tracking him on the blog…

* Kennedy dodges marijuana questions

* Once again, Chris Kennedy dodges a marijuana question (but not totally)

* Kennedy vs. Pritzker on legalizing marijuana

* Where do the candidates stand on marijuana?

* More candidate responses

Daiber said he supports it because it is now socially acceptable.

“If you wanna buy some pot, you probably can on this campus,” he said to laughter. But he wanted Illinois to legalize marijuana by referendum and not legislation.

The only boos from the crowd on the night came when Hardiman said marijuana was a gateway to other drugs.

“Yes, it’s been proven in addiction studies,” he said in response. “I do support it, but we need to take a good look.”

Biss said he supports the legalization of cannabis because the laws are enforced unequally, because he wants to address it as a public health issue and because taxing it could be used for revenue.


  1. - PatchAdams - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    The Kennedy family made their fortune bootlegging during prohibition. Why would they want anything legalized?

  2. - cdog - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:13 pm:

    But Bezos probably wants Amazon to drone it to your door. /s

    Amazon is headquartered in a pot state.

    Also, if pot’s so bad because no one can document anything crazy-bad about it, I guess alcohol should be prohibited too, right? Kennedy knows the evils of that vice, firsthand. Sadly, I’ve gone to a few funerals this year from that poison.

  3. - DownstateKid - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:14 pm:

    Welp, there goes the Bernie Bros.

  4. - A guy - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:16 pm:

    It’s a heartfelt, and I believe, honest answer from him on the way he sees this. He’s certainly not alone.
    Moving this direction by expanding the Medical Marijuana categories would be a good step. At the same time, those who state that the law is enforced less than equally are very much correct too. The width of discretion isn’t helping.

    There are plenty of states where there is accrued data (university level) developing much faster to assist with this. Places where Med Mar isn’t such a volatile political football because of organized crime around it. Use those studies.

  5. - Patch adams - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:17 pm:

    Paterakis is the one most for it, but you neglect to mention him…..

  6. - OneMan - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:19 pm:

    Well if you want Northern to do the research I would suggest you not use a couple of guys who used to live on my dorm floor…

    But I don’t see this as much of a ‘hey let’s get revenue’ thing and more of a ‘let’s not waste our time on dealing with the criminality of this drug’ The revenue might be a nice driver, but it seems to me that just freeing up resources would be a money saver and a good idea anyway.

  7. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    His family has a history with addiction problems so it’s a totally legit position for him, but not one that will help politically. And I agree with him 100% but that puts us in a distinct minority on this issue.

  8. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:20 pm:

    No Kennedy for me in the Primary, thanks. No way at this point would I consider voting for him in the Primary.

    Why should responsible marijuana consumers be punished because of his brother’s addiction problems? Certainly not everybody who gets high on weed has a damaging addiction, where their lives are wrecked.

    Pritzker and the other Democratic candidates should push this issue and try to separate themselves from Kennedy.

  9. - JoeMaddon - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:22 pm:

    **His family has a history with addiction problems so it’s a totally legit position for him**

    1 - what does that have to do with pot?
    2 - making policy based on personal anecdote is foolish.

  10. - Northsider - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:24 pm:

    == Amazon is headquartered in a pot state. ==

    Amazon began in the mid-1990s. Washington state voters legalized marijuana by referendum in 2012. Correlation isn’t causation, cdog.

  11. - Paterakis for Prez - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:26 pm:

    Rich is afraid to speak Paterakis’s name. Do not be afraid Rich, all is fine, all is well….

  12. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:27 pm:

    Kennedy is correct.

  13. - Pundent - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:30 pm:

    Get rid of the soda tax, legalize pot, everybody wins. And if you really want to push the revenue envelope implement a Cheetos tax. The pot heads won’t care.

  14. - Gruntled University Employee - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    If the U of I starts researching the effects of marijuana I might just have to sign on as a research subject.

  15. - Seats - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:31 pm:

    Kennedy just throwing away his early lead. Being the outlier on this in a primary is going to hurt.

  16. - Responsa - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:38 pm:

    Lockstep is out. I would expect the Dem candidates to disagree on more than a few policy issues and explain them to the public and why. Otherwise why have so many people running and competing for voters and money?

  17. - Ghost - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:41 pm:

    OneMan perhaps Kennedy was just curious how low his numbers could go……

  18. - cdog - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    Northsider, I was not attempting to prove causation; that would be silly.

    It’s more like this. Amazon employees, sitting around a board room table, are going through the October RFPs for HQ2. One of them says, “But guys, Denver is the only place we aren’t criminals for choosing pot over alcohol to relax and unwind.” Everybody else chimes in, “done.”

    One never knows. :)

    (Willy’s better at script writing than I am. :)

  19. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    I think we have enough evidence, both scientific and anecdotal to move forward on legalization. I am moving toward support Pritzker in the primary based on this position.

  20. - Ron - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:47 pm:

    Welp, looks like another vote for Rauner.

  21. - Ali Nagib - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    @Northsider: Washington passed their medical cannabis initiative (I-692) in Nov 1998

  22. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:48 pm:

    Legalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana should be done immediately in Illinois.

  23. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 2:57 pm:

    Afterwards, all the candidates went down to Walgreens to pick up a bottle of Jack Daniels, a case of Bud, a carton of Lucky’s and to fill their Oxy prescriptions.

  24. - City Zen - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:05 pm:

    Ecstasy is the drug you want to embrace.

  25. - Rabid - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:09 pm:

    70 years of prohibition and the facts aren’t in yet to support it

  26. - A guy - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:12 pm:

    This is Illinois. They’ll legalize the weed and then heavily tax the munchies…That’ll cause JB some issues. /s

  27. - Red fish blue fish - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:16 pm:

    Two thoughts
    Firstly, the extended response was a welcome improvement over Kennedy’s usual “let’s wait and see the science” line.

    Secondly, Kennedy comes across better in the video clip than the text transcript. I’ve noticed this with other events too. He interacts well with the audience–a vibe of comradery. This doesn’t necessarily translate into text , as was the case with his remarks at the March meeting with the Cook County Dems.

  28. - Retired Educator - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:26 pm:

    Based upon the scientific studies that I have read, as a layman, not a doctor or a chemist, there are grounds for concern about marijuana use by minors and young adults. After adulthood, when development is complete, the risk of brain impairment has passed.

    As much as I prefer not imbibe, I would be okay with grown adults puffing away (please explain to me why cigarettes are bad for you, but smoking joints is fine — a paradox to be sure) in private. Keep it away from the kids.

  29. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 3:31 pm:

    ===Welp, there goes the Bernie Bros.===

    DownstateKid makes a joke of it, but he isn’t wrong. By taking this one position, Kennedy automatically alienated at least 10% of Democratic primary voters. Maybe many more, considering the Dems high percentage of young voters and African American voters (who are statistically much more likely to be imprisoned for marijuana possession). If Pritzker wants to end this charade early, he should run ads using just this video.

  30. - @MisterJayEm - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:05 pm:

    “His family has a history with addiction problems so it’s a totally legit position for him”

    And my brother got hit by a bus, but I wouldn’t let that affect my views on public transportation.

    – MrJM

  31. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:07 pm:

    This could really blunt whatever “Our Revolution” energy Kennedy was supposed to get out of the Chuy endorsement (though I don’t know how central legalization is those voters, except to say that they are in favor of it). It also creates a “Permission Structure” for your more “Regular Democrat” crowd to pick Pritzker over Kennedy.

  32. - Free Set of Steak Knives - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:15 pm:

    Lester Holt-

    I hope Rich or someone else will correctly me if I am wrong, but I believe Democratic primary support for legalizing pot is around 80%.

    Not 10%.

    80% is a level where you can feel pretty comfortable running a broadcast, contrast ad and moving some votes.

  33. - the Cardinal - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:16 pm:

    Bobbys boy aint wrong and a whole bunch of those that might vote for him in a primary agree with his thoughts. His support coming in from the center left 50 plus crowd and the Catholic church still see diminished capacity as an issue

  34. - Amalia - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    I don’t agree with his position. But I do think it is heartfelt. how he gets this message out will be important in niche groups. but I kinda don’t think the other candidates will run a “he’s not in favor of legalization” commercial on tv, will they? it’s not like choice, for example.

  35. - RoscoeRatMatt - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 4:30 pm:

    Hmph…and with that nonsensical, prohibition-era-worthy drivel, he’s lost this millennial’s vote.

  36. - Keyser Soze - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 5:09 pm:

    Yes, this is Illinois. Sigh.

  37. - Ron - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 7:06 pm:

    The state could be easily raking in $200,000,000.00 annually in taxes on pot if legalized. Not a bad payment on our outrageous pension plans.

  38. - Kippax Blue - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 7:35 pm:

    No chance for my primary vote. Undervote in general if Kennedy survives primary. If he is this naive on this issue, it should be expected he is naive on many more issues. Zero interest in any support whatsoever.

  39. - SameolG - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 8:10 pm:

    Kennedy should file petitions as a Republican and primary Rauner. Might make the most sense at this point

  40. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 8:36 pm:

    Cannabis is not dangerous and does not kill anyone. Who is he trying to fool? Who is he trying to protect?

  41. - CivilSpk - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 8:52 pm:

    Ask any parent of a teenager and they will tell you what a huge problem pot is. Children have gotten the wrong message that pot is safe. All studies show issues with usage below the age of 25. We and most of the parents in our area are seeing the problem. A comedian made a joke about how to defeat ISIS. Just give them free pot. They will never find the motivation to bomb anyone.
    The costs for treatment and social problems will far out way the benefits. The devastation among our youth is cause for alarm. The good news is that they won’t be motivated to leave the state.

  42. - Ron - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 10:23 pm:

    A lot of ridiculous scare mongering, CivilSpk. Just like booze, there will be a minimum age to buy pot.

  43. - Rookie Writer - Wednesday, Oct 4, 17 @ 10:29 pm:

    CivilSpk - alcohol is much more of a danger IMHO, and it is much more accessible.

    Pot will eventually become available to 21 and overs as alcohol is today. Might as well take advantage of the opportunity to tax it now. Colorado has taken in more marijuana tax revenue than alcohol tax revenue.

    So many other things are legal, but unsafe, so this argument frustrates me.

  44. - Saluki - Thursday, Oct 5, 17 @ 6:55 am:

    Kennedy is right on this issue.

  45. - Anon - Thursday, Oct 5, 17 @ 1:58 pm:

    My Dr. just suggested I look into medical marijuana. I have rheumatoid arthritis and deal with pain daily. Because of the opioid epidemic he is under more and more restrictions on what he can prescribe. I have never abused hydrocodone, some weeks I don’t need it at all, but there are other weeks I cannot move without it. Now the politicians want to take away another option for me. I don’t think they would be so quick to do this if they had to deal with chronic pain on a daily basis.

  46. - Rabid - Thursday, Oct 5, 17 @ 6:19 pm:

    He is right we made a law that we knew nothing about, punishment is more harmful than the substance

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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