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GOP Sen. Barickman says legalizing marijuana is “inevitable,” calls on Rauner to change his mind

Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017

* From the Illinois Policy Institute’s news service

Add a Republican senator from Central Illinois to the growing list of Illinois lawmakers who say the state should legalize recreational marijuana.

State Sen. Jason Barickman, R-Bloomington, says he is ready to support legal, recreational marijuana if the law is written correctly.

“I think fiscal conservatives need to be in this debate,” Barickman said Tuesday. “It is inevitable that this is going to happen. Our opportunity is either to sit on the sidelines and watch how it happens, and not influence the outcome or put ourselves at the negotiating table.”

Barickman says that way he can try and shape how a legal, recreational marijuana program will work. And he can shape how the hundreds of millions of dollars that Illinois could see in new taxes is spent.

“I would like to see these revenues pay down our backlog of bills, our debt, our pension liabilities,” Barickman said. “I’d like to see us move our income tax rates.”

Industry experts say legal, recreational marijuana in Illinois could be worth as much as $700 million a year.

Barickman said he’s ready to vote yes for legal marijuana, but not to co-sponsor the plan. He expects other Republicans to also endorse marijuana, and he hopes Gov. Bruce Rauner changes his mind.

* Public Radio

Barickman said for him recreational use of cannabis is not a moral issue. And it is not in the same realm as the opioid epidemic as a health concern. He said the state already has a template of laws to draw on regarding alcohol use, transportation, and youth use of alcohol that could be adapted to marijuana.

“Rather than flippantly dismissing this idea, the governor ought to study it further, hear from Republicans around the state, and others, and re-evaluate the position that he has taken on this issue,” said Barickman. […]

“I come as a fiscal conservative who recognizes we need to broaden our tax base. This is an issue that we have talked about through our budget stalemate of the last few years. This is an opportunity to broaden our tax base and hold, if not reduce, the individual income tax rates that today we’re struggling with,” said Barickman. […]

Some advocates have said this year is too soon for a bill to be ready to pass. Barickman said he’s not sure exactly when one will. He said he would be surprised if it were later than 2019. Eight states already have legalized recreational use of marijuana and more are considering proposals.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

40 Comments »
  1. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    Rauner shot his mouth off without thought and will miss another opportunity. Colorado and Oregon have a thriving industry that produces huge tax revenues, has lowered crime rates and succeeded with minimal problems. The bill will pass and he’ll either have to go back on his word or watch another veto override which will only drive home what an epic failure he is.


  2. - PJ - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:11 am:

    Good on Barickman for demonstrating that Illinois conservatives can be sensible on policy


  3. - Cheryl44 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    Senator Barickman is absolutely right.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:14 am:

    Pass it along with the gambling expansion already


  5. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:15 am:

    ===“I would like to see these revenues pay down our backlog of bills, our debt, our pension liabilities,” Barickman said. “I’d like to see us move our income tax rates.”===

    … says the phony who aided Rauner to amass $16 billion in backlog debt and continually voted against higher education, an economic engine in his region.

    Spare me, Mr. Barickman, that you feel that it’s about economics when your own record is about hurting your district, biting to amass that debt you want eleviated, and actually thinking you can help influence Rauner, when in reality, Rauner has your buttons under his influence.

    Right messenge, agree with that… wrong messeneger.


  6. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    here’s hoping.


  7. - Amelie - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    In b4 saluki’s reefer madness


  8. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:19 am:

    I just left meeting with realtors who have insight into the residential market in Colorado. Personal income is up 15% in the state while home prices are up over 60%. There are lines forming to move into Colorado while — they report — that their home sales here in IL are one-sided, i.e., people are selling but not buying because they’re leaving.

    Thank you, Sen. Barickman.


  9. - Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:20 am:

    Barickman was the only IL GOP senator to vote for marriage equality, if memory serves. The guy has a sensible streak a mile wide. Good for him.


  10. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    A true fiscal conservative ? Broaden the tax base?


  11. - PJ - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Every midwestern state that does this before us is enormous losses in new business growth and revenue.

    If we’re the first state in hundreds of miles around to do it, and the only midwestern state with an international hub, we could boom.


  12. - Ron - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:21 am:

    Illinois could really use an extra $500,000,000 in tax revenues. That’s a huge pension payment.


  13. - Saluki - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:22 am:

    Since marijuana smoke harms lung health, the American Lung Association opposes the
    inhalation of smoke or aerosol of marijuana.


  14. - Macbeth - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    Bravo to Barickman!

    There’s money to made here. Lots and lots of it.

    It’s about time pragmatism nudges out partisan politics (and Rauner’s inane social stance).


  15. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    ===Broaden the tax base? ===

    What’s wrong with that? Narrow tax bases mean everyone who pays ends up paying more. It’s how we’ve messed up our own state. Tax base is too narrow, spending base is too wide.


  16. - Saluki - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:24 am:

    Amelie,

    Someone has to be the stuffy old codger in the room….


  17. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:26 am:

    ===the American Lung Association opposes the
    inhalation of smoke or aerosol of marijuana. ===

    And so we should continue empowering oftentimes violent criminals by letting them control the growing and distribution networks.

    Right.

    Great plan. 👍


  18. - don the legend - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    …Since marijuana smoke harms lung health, the American Lung Association opposes the
    inhalation of smoke or aerosol of marijuana…

    Of course they are. But one organization against legalization versus all the damage done by keeping it illegal is no argument at all. Sheesh.


  19. - blue dog dem - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    I don’t believe the tax base is too narrow, but I do believe the spending base is much too wide.
    Sin taxes are great for the upper middle class and rich, but no so for the rest.


  20. - Juvenal - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    @Trapped

    First, Rauner will veto the bill. He cannot win without the anti-socialist, anti-hippie, law-and-order Trump voters.

    Also, he is personally convinced he is right on this issue.

    Secondly, it is important to remember the veto override will be after the election. Rauner will get to spend five months defending his veto.

    I dunno that there will be much Democratic effort to win GOP votes in the spring. Madigan and Cullerton can get the votes they need to get to 60 and 30 without Republicans. But they need the bill to be vetoed so they can use the rollcall and the veto to drive up turnout of younger voters.

    Republicans may have some sway over a trailer bill if their votes are needed, but they will be out of the picture pretty much if JB wins or they do not pick up seats in the GA.

    Barickman is right. This is inevitable. Rauner ought to get in front. But he won’t.


  21. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    Barickman is correct - and he used similar logic when casting the lone Senate GOP vote in favor of gay marriage - but my worry lies in how the House would handle this. I think the Senate would pass it fairly easily, and at least two or three Senate GOP members would vote in favor. It might pass the House by a thin margin, but if Governor Rauner vetoed or AV’d the bill would the House be able to institute an override? That is the question.

    I still think the sponsors need to wait until either veto session next fall or lame duck in 2019 to move such a proposal. Retiring and/or defeated state reps might be more likely to give it a veto proof majority on its initial vote and if Rauner vetoes it - regardless of whether he is reelected or goes down in flames - the House would be more emboldened and likely to override.


  22. - igotgotgotgotnotime - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    Who says you have to smoke it?


  23. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:43 am:

    So if we eat it or use it as a suppository then Saluki and the Lung Association are okay with it, right? I’ll share my banana bread recipe.


  24. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:47 am:

    === Since marijuana smoke harms lung health, the American Lung Association opposes the inhalation of smoke or aerosol of marijuana. ===

    Marijuana prohibition encourages the inhalation of marijuana. Legalization opens the door to alternative consumption methods such as regulated edibles.


  25. - 33 ward - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:22 pm:

    Whether it’s reduced crime, rising home prices, or just freedom of others, Colorado has led the way on this issue.

    It’s not a question of if, but when.

    When will Illinois stop shooting itself in the foot?


  26. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:24 pm:

    It’s encouraging to see a Republican supporting marijuana legalization. I agree that we need the tax revenue. We need to get the money out of the black market and into legitimate businesses and government coffers, where it would do lots of good.

    The criminalization model has been one of our country’s biggest failures. It’s great to see support for ending the prohibition model, which was an abysmal failure with alcohol and of course with marijuana. I’d much more prefer investing in substance abuse treatment and prevention, as opposed to locking up people and the expensive, damaging criminal justice process.


  27. - Pundent - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:30 pm:

    =Since marijuana smoke harms lung health, the American Lung Association opposes the inhalation of smoke or aerosol of marijuana.=

    I have no problem with this being part of the debate. But let’s have the debate. There are obviously pros and cons of legalization but let’s consider all of the issues and as Rich points out our current state which encourages illegal distribution networks to meet demand.

    Prohibition had its supporters as well. But the consequences outweighed the benefits. This issue is not really all that different.


  28. - Keep_Up - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:34 pm:

    === Sin taxes are great for the upper middle class and rich, but no so for the rest. ===

    blue dog - The difference is that this isn’t increasing an existing tax on a legal product like when we talk about cigarettes or alcohol. We are talking about taking a black market product and legitimizing it. The consumer costs will likely stay about the same.


  29. - anon2 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    Legalization is inevitable, but the alcohol model of legalization is the wrong one to emulate. Better for public health is the tobacco model: tobacco is legal, but sociallly unacceptable and its use is declining.


  30. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:55 pm:

    Aw you guys be nice to Saluki, she/he is probably a lobbyist for the beer distributors or wirtz beverage. And legalization cuts into their market. Just doing her/his job!

    To the post - Good job by Sen.Barickman for taking a well-thought out position and expressing your beliefs on this topic so eloquently. Also, Lol@ Sen. Barickman for thinking Rauner cares what he has to say about pretty much anything.


  31. - anon2 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:34 pm:

    The research is unclear so far about whether legalization of marijuana reduces alcohol consumption.

    “Some studies found that high school seniors in states where pot was decriminalized tended to drink less, while other research found that college students who used pot also drank more…But blood levels of THC, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana’s pleasurable psychological effects, increase with simultaneous alcohol use — so the quest for a better high might lead people to use both substances.”

    https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/01/04/impact-of-legal-marijuana-on-alcohol-use-still-unknown/97171.html


  32. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:35 pm:

    ===The research is unclear so far about whether legalization of marijuana reduces alcohol consumption===

    And who cares?


  33. - ImissBentohs - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 2:33 pm:

    OK, I’ll concede. I do think it is a moral issue that I am against but reality is reality. Thus, I hope when it is done the law is written correctly to maximize state income and minimize illegal crime.


  34. - anon2 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 2:43 pm:

    === she/he is probably a lobbyist for the beer distributors or wirtz beverage. And legalization cuts into their market. ===

    One commenter assumes that marijuana legalization will hurt the alcohol industry, but the research is mixed on that subject.


  35. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:09 pm:

    –Barickman said for him recreational use of cannabis is not a moral issue. And it is not in the same realm as the opioid epidemic as a health concern. He said the state already has a template of laws to draw on regarding alcohol use, transportation, and youth use of alcohol that could be adapted to marijuana.–

    That’s a tight three sentences. Works for me.

    Hand-wringing oliticians are way behind the public on this one. Gallup, 10/25/17:

    –WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans continue to warm to legalizing marijuana, with 64% now saying its use should be made legal. This is the highest level of public support Gallup has found for the proposal in nearly a half-century of measurement.–

    http://news.gallup.com/poll/221018/record-high-support-legalizing-marijuana.aspx


  36. - anon2 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:29 pm:

    I agree that public opinion has changed, and legalization is coming. The crucial question is what model of legalization? Will it prioritize public health, the way tobacco regulations do nowadays, or allow pretty much unfettered commercialization, with companies seeking to maximize profit by maximizing consumption?


  37. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    Legal recreational weed sales seems to be tightly regulated. In stores, customers have to provide their ID’s and wait until being allowed in the parts of the stores that sell the merchandise. Then they can only buy so much, and in some places it’s in protective packaging. It’s so much easier to buy cigarettes and alcohol.

    Marijuana still has some of that “Reefer Madness” stigma, which probably accounts for tighter regulations. I don’t sweat it, though. I think we should try to respect and be lawfully considerate of those who don’t care for marijuana, as long as adults can legally buy it.


  38. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 6:58 pm:

    let me second the notion that it does not have to be smoked. there are whole cookbooks and classes on creating edibles. just legalize it. and hemp too. we need both products to soothe those in need and the coffers of the state can use the help.


  39. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 1:40 am:

    “Barickman said he’s ready to vote yes for legal marijuana, but not to co-sponsor the plan.”

    So Barickman basically says in plain language that marijuana legalization is “inevitable” and he won’t co-sponsor a bill, but he’ll go with the flow, so now he’s the Republican hero of the hippies? I’m skeptical.

    Most of the small town “heartland” types are in the pocket of the police unions. Barickman sponsored Rep. Tom Bennett’s HB305 at the request of the Pontiac chief of police, which allows police agencies to hire applicants with two years of college or a community college degree. As a society we should be demanding in 2017 that every cop have a bachelor’s degree: more education, not less. Police unions death grip on the brains of small town legislators are the reason that pot wasn’t legalized ten years ago.

    Barickman didn’t do a thing to make Brandon Phelps concealed carry bill any better, it was practically written by police unions. Let’s hold off on crowning Barickman as the next Timothy Leary here.


  40. - Rabid - Thursday, Dec 7, 17 @ 6:21 am:

    Would law enforcement expound the benefits of prohibition, protecting people from themselves


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