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Kennedy shifts yet again on marijuana

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2018

* Sun-Times

Pritzker is also running a digital ad that contends Kennedy doesn’t support legalization of marijuana. […]

Kennedy has long said he wants more studies on how to legalize marijuana. On Monday he said he would want a state program run by a “broker like the University of Illinois,” not “in the hands of paid lobbyists working for corporate titans, private equity sharks or hedge fund investors.”

Kennedy said he didn’t believe it was a personal attack to go after the Pritzker family.

“I think it goes to somebody’s character and he’s demonstrating his character,” Kennedy said, adding his policy positions are listed on his campaign website.

* If you go to Kennedy’s campaign website you get this

Chris Kennedy believes that we should legalize marijuana and broaden access to medical marijuana.

* A little birdie told me to set the Wayback Machine to March 4, 2018

Chris Kennedy believes marijuana should be publicly available to the extent that reputable scientists and medical professionals advise.

He’s had that same exact language on his website since at least October 11th of last year, according to the Wayback Machine.

So, depending on how you feel about Kennedy, he’s either suddenly seen the light in the past ten days, or he’s flip-flopped to score political points and fend off Pritzker’s online spot

Either way, they ought to update their Google ad…

That’s not helping.

* This latest Kennedy shift is one of many on this topic. We have been tracking Kennedy’s marijuana positions for a long time. From March 29, 2017

Chris supports decriminalizing marijuana in Illinois. He believes we should not be prosecuting and crowding our jails over simple possession of marijuana. He is reviewing studies done on the effects of legalization in other states before determining if legalization would be right for Illinois.

* May 1, 2017

“I don’t know whether it’ll get legalized, I don’t know if it’ll get taxed. I mean, I think betting our future that all of that occurs and that somehow that’s gonna cure our budget problem. I think we need thoughtful, real, concrete that operate without … without relying on something that has, you know, tenuous, um possibilities. Sorry. I’ll tell you the truth.”

* June 7, 2017

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.

* October 4, 2017

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.

* So, he’s gone from favoring decriminalization (which we already had at the time) while putting the legalization issue under review; to saying we should be wary of the “massive change” of legalization; to warning against the dangers of embracing the “public health hazard” of pot; to cautiously putting legalization’s fate into the hands of “reputable scientists and medical professionals” to his latest plan of just letting the U of I run the whole show.

What’s that old saying? When a politician changes his position to one you oppose, he’s a flip-flopper. When he shifts your direction, he’s a statesman.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

42 Comments
  1. - NotMe - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    Maybe he’s counting on diminished short term memory among advocates?


  2. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:42 am:

    How dare JB point out Kennedy’s shifting sands positions on pot?


  3. - Amalia - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:44 am:

    spot on with the statesman/flip-flopper comment, Rich. I don’t like that he’s not moved directly on this, but it’s headed in the right direction.


  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    Or as Harry Truman said about Adlai Stevenson, “That guy cant decide if he has to go to the bathroom or not”


  5. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:46 am:

    Indecisiveness and lack of message discipline have been problems his entire campaign, for those paying attention.

    His best hope is that just enough folks have paid attention to his excellent recent spots.


  6. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    Shame on me for falling for Kennedy’s big flip-flop earlier this month. Thankfully it will be corrected. I talked with my polling place worker, and I will be allowed to vote again. In fact, I was told an “Obama bus” will even come pick me up. I love Chicago.


  7. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    This is how political change happens, you keep hammering the politicians until they change their mind.

    But look, if you’re pro-legalization, you have 2 candidates you *didn’t* have to hammer for a year. And it’s pretty unctuous for Kennedy to change his position then get all huffy about someone being bothered by his old position.


  8. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    Who would have thought gubernatorial candidates would be clawing their way to the top as to who is more pro-legalization? It’s a gooood things. Things are a changing.


  9. - A guy - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    A mess to be sure, but why would proponents care how he got to where he is today? It furthers the cause they advocate, doesn’t it?


  10. - Anon0091 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:01 pm:

    “A mess to be sure, but why would proponents care how he got to where he is today? It furthers the cause they advocate, doesn’t it?”

    Because when goes through as much tortured machinations as Kennedy has on this issue, it means he doesn’t believe it and you shouldn’t believe he would do anything about it when elected.


  11. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:04 pm:

    Good, he changed his mind for the better. I like that in pols. Glad I voted for Kennedy.


  12. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:10 pm:

    ==A mess to be sure, but why would proponents care how he got to where he is today? It furthers the cause they advocate, doesn’t it?==

    In the context of a Gubernatorial nomination, you want the one who agreed with you upfront and you didn’t have to browbeat.


  13. - ‘Ol yellerstain - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:11 pm:

    This is why I never vote early.


  14. - tomhail - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:21 pm:

    …what Just Observing said.


  15. - Not It - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:29 pm:

    The problem is that Kennedy’s shift was done in the dark. It seems like he is trying to pretend that his previous positions didn’t exist.

    It would be different if he came forward and spoke “truth to power” about realizing his position needed to change.


  16. - TKMH - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:45 pm:

    Chris didn’t expect this issue to catch fire like it did. He’s stuck between a rock and a hard place: getting hammered by two opponents who feel strongly about this issue, backed by a public that feels similarly, and his own family.

    I expect these changing positions are pure posturing. A Gov. Kennedy is going to turn to his cousin, and strident anti-pot activist, Patrick Kennedy for advice on this issue, not a panel of doctors.


  17. - supplied_demand - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:47 pm:

    ==In the context of a Gubernatorial nomination, you want the one who agreed with you upfront and you didn’t have to browbeat. ==

    I actually believe the opposite of this. Had Biss changed his stance on the Lasalle St Tax, I would likely vote for him. I emailed his campaign to tell them as much.

    You aren’t going to agree with someone on 100% of the issues. If a candidate moves towards your views on an issue important to you, that is a plus in my book.


  18. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:56 pm:

    Legalizing pot will conservatively bring in $500,000,000.00 annually.

    That’s a big pension payment.

    Not legalizing it is a travesty.


  19. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 12:58 pm:

    Supplied_Demand, I got a call from the Biss campaign about a month ago and told the nice woman I could never vote for Biss with his silly LaSalle street tax idea. I also told her I preferred him when he was a fiscal reformer, not the new Bernie.


  20. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:09 pm:

    Did President Obama support gay marriage? How about Hillary Clinton? Both became strong advocates but they didn’t start there. History is filled with more examples. Let’s not rule someone out because their beliefs/understanding on an issue has evolved. Mark Dayton, the popular progressive governor in Minnesota, still opposes legalization of marijuana. To me, this issue (of Kennedy’s changes on marijuana) pales in comparison to concerns around integrity with some of the other candidates.


  21. - TKMH - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:16 pm:

    ==Did President Obama support gay marriage? How about Hillary Clinton? Both became strong advocates but they didn’t start there. History is filled with more examples. Let’s not rule someone out because their beliefs/understanding on an issue has evolved.==

    It took Obama a number of years to publicly evolve on gay marriage. Ditto Hillary. Three months and a bunch of bad press later, Chris turns around and changes his mind on pot? Give me a break.

    If he’s elected, the UIUC recommendation panel on marijuana that he’s proposing will be stacked with “experts” recommended by cousin Patrick. Just you wait.


  22. - A guy - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:18 pm:

    ==In the context of a Gubernatorial nomination, you want the one who agreed with you upfront and you didn’t have to browbeat.==

    I get it Ars, but his chance to win is still slim, but you’ve got him on the record and his position will be more laudable in 2 months whether he wins or he loses.

    He’s not insane. If he gets a bill, he’ll sign it. If someone else does, his endorsement of it remains.


  23. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:35 pm:

    ==If a candidate moves towards your views on an issue important to you, that is a plus in my book.==

    It’s a plus for *the issue*, but when you’re picking a candidate, you’re better off going with the guy you didn’t have to fight. He’s already demonstrated he’s easier to work with.

    In this situation, you’ve got two you didn’t have to fight!

    ==I get it Ars, but his chance to win is still slim==

    Sure. In terms of pushing for legalization, I’m happy Kennedy moved toward me. But in terms of the office he’s running for…well, I already voted, anyway.


  24. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:38 pm:

    Think they call that shifting to the middle. Like Ives did.


  25. - dbk - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:42 pm:

    Kennedy was going to be nudged to this position in any case, so it’s probably just as well he took the hint. This will be a major voter issue in the November election (maybe not for CapFax readers, but for, like, normal people).

    I’m wondering if recreational m. might alleviate the symptoms of ILPOCS (IL Politics Obsessive-Compulsive Syndrome), from which some of us seem to be suffering acutely these days.


  26. - LBJ - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    Sometimes when people are high, they forget what they said earlier. Just sayin’.

    What were we talking about?


  27. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:54 pm:

    Anything other than unequivocal cannabis legalization for adults in 2018 is unacceptable. Kennedy might as well just be a Republican.


  28. - anon2 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 1:59 pm:

    It’s clear that Kennedy has evolved on this issue, but so have many other politicians and voters. On the other hand, it’s reasonable to give attention to HOW it would be taxed and regulated, not merely to whether it should be legal.


  29. - anon2 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:04 pm:

    === Kennedy might as well just be a Republican. ==

    Really? How many GOP votes do you predict will be cast for legalization? If their support for the modest medical marijuana bill is any indication, then the answer is precious few.


  30. - ShawneeCoal - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:08 pm:

    Kennedy is done. It’s been real it’s been fun, but it hasn’t been real fun. So long.


  31. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:10 pm:

    Whatever they’re doing in CO and WA, is what we should do here. They are raking in cash.


  32. - frisbee - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:11 pm:

    Too little too late…he wanted political cover to support his position and now he wants to give UIUC control? What about the other state universities?


  33. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:16 pm:

    Anon2- Jason Barickman is on board and he is a Republican. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that Kennedy is by and large anti cannabis legalization.


  34. - anon2 - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:19 pm:

    == Barickman is on board and he is a Republican ==

    I didn’t say there would be zero support among GOP legislators, just “precious few.” If you disagree, I’m all ears. How many votes, other than Rep. Skilicorn?


  35. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:21 pm:

    Anon2 - We have clear examples of HOW cannabis should be taxed and regulated. Look at the legal states.


  36. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 2:23 pm:

    Anon2 - The point is Kennedy should have zero reservations on cannabis legalization. We are not the first to do this.


  37. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 4:47 pm:

    Raise your hands high if you think Chris Kennedy will be pushing to legalize recreational marijuana in his first legislative session.

    Nobody? Smart crowd.

    Kennedy’s plan is pretty simple: slow down the process as much as possible by first requiring legislation that has the U of I perform a study, then giving the university a year to do the study. Then six months to write the report. Then six months to negotiate the bill language, etc.

    It will be 2021 and nothing will have happened yet.

    Oh, and when there finally is a bill, don’t expect Kennedy to lift a finger to actually get it passed. Which means it will fail.

    By contrast, I expect Biss or Pritzker will build revenue estimates from marijuana taxation into their first budget, telling lawmakers if they don’t want to legalize it, they are gonna have to cut favored programs back home, like funding for their schools.


  38. - Ron - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 4:51 pm:

    Every cent should be used to pay for current obligations. We can’t afford new programs.


  39. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 5:11 pm:

    ==Kennedy’s plan is pretty simple: slow down the process as much as possible by first requiring legislation that has the U of I perform a study, then giving the university a year to do the study. Then six months to write the report. Then six months to negotiate the bill language, etc.

    It will be 2021 and nothing will have happened yet.

    Oh, and when there finally is a bill, don’t expect Kennedy to lift a finger to actually get it passed. Which means it will fail.

    By contrast, I expect Biss or Pritzker will build revenue estimates from marijuana taxation into their first budget, telling lawmakers if they don’t want to legalize it, they are gonna have to cut favored programs back home, like funding for their schools.==

    This is pretty much what I’ve been trying to say. It’s good that Kennedy has changed his mind, but it took an awful lot of work to get him there.


  40. - Blimp - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 8:03 pm:

    Some marijuana strains are very high in THC content. They are somewhat dangerous. I’ve seen long term users negatively affected. Still, the tax dollars will help this state, so I’m cautiously for it. Tax it heavily.

    I don’t blame Kennedy. For many of us, our positions on marijuana have been evolving.


  41. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 9:05 pm:

    Blimp, there is 100 to 192 proof alcohol legally available. Should we outlaw it?


  42. - Illinois Resident - Wednesday, Mar 14, 18 @ 9:06 pm:

    Blimp, you know you can’t OD on cannabis but you can on alcohol correct?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
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