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Cannabis roundup

Monday, May 20, 2019

* By far the most troubling aspect of watching the cannabis legalization bill this year is the willingness of the opposition to just make stuff up. The majority of their arguments against the bill are little more than bogus fear-mongering.

Whether it’s foreign drug cartels descending upon Christian County, or how weed consumption causes irreversible, untreatable ED, or whatever, the level of anti-Reefer Madness is, well, maddening.

* The rampant misinformation is contributing to the trend of pundits declaring the proposal to be on life support. Finke

It’s a lot to digest, especially in the context of everything else that’s going on. At this point, recreational cannabis may be the Pritzker agenda item most likely to be postponed until later.


At this point, Illinois appears to be the best bet for getting a full legalization bill across the finish line, but it’s still iffy with two weeks left until adjournment.

* The latest from the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board is a good example of fear-mongering

But we’ve said the right approach for lawmakers was to take their time, thoroughly examine the experience of other states that have completely legalized cannabis and consider how to minimize unwanted consequences. Nothing we have seen in this legislative session in Springfield has diminished the attractions of the slow road.

And yet, they do not critique a single line from the proposed Illinois legislation. Instead, they pull out stuff like this

One argument for legalization is that it would kill off the black market — channeling sales through regulated suppliers and yielding tax revenue to the state. But things haven’t gone as planned in California, which opened up legal commerce at the beginning of 2018. Experts say that the black market still accounts for up to 80 percent of sales.

OK, but how will Illinois’ proposal turn us into California? The Tribsters don’t say. They just try to scare people.

* But if they can drag out California, I can drag out Colorado. A report released last August by the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division stated this

Colorado’s preexisting illicit marijuana market for residents and visitors has been fully absorbed into the regulated market

People have been growing and/or selling weed in tourist-heavy Colorado for at least half a century, long before the 2011 legalization. So, eliminating the domestic illicit market in six years is quite an accomplishment. The criminal networks remain, the study found, but those networks focus on exporting to states that have not yet legalized the product. You know, states like, well, ours.

The only way we’re going to stamp out these vast and entrenched criminal networks is through thoughtful, effective legalization. If the Tribune has some ideas to add to or subtract from the bill, then it should speak up. The bill’s drafters have based their language on what has worked and what hasn’t worked in states like California and Colorado (among others). I disagree with some of their ideas, like allowing prohibitionist municipalities to opt out, which, as California discovered, helps existing criminal networks operate without competition. I highly doubt the Trib and its followers would support an opt-out ban to stamp out illegal sales, and you gotta pass a bill to make a law so opt-out remains.

* Former Colorado Department of Revenue Executive Director Barbara Brohl sent a memo to some Illinois legislators recently after being contacted by a reporter who wondered why law enforcement in Boulder had told him there was still a black market in that state. Here’s an excerpt from what she says she told him…

1. There are opponents and proponents to legalization and that it is important not to rely on anecdotal information, but to rely on actual studies, like the ones that the [Colorado Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division] has commissioned.

2. While the Colorado demand is satisfied by the regulated industry, there is still a black market in Colorado that is growing unlawfully and shipping out of state. I explained that in the last couple of years there have been a number of busts by law enforcement because there has been more focus on them and that the state legislature had officially capped the number of plants that could be grown in any one residence to 12 (thus a bright line test for law enforcement), and had appropriated funds from the marijuana tax fund to local law enforcement to increase resources to go after these unlawful grows (thus increasing the number of busts).

3. That taxation has not been a deterrent to consumers purchasing in the regulated environment. Consumers appear to be more interested in:

    * Purchasing legally (remember purchasing from your neighbor is still illegal).
    * Purchasing in a place that is safe - well-lit, security, etc.
    * Purchasing product that is safe - tested for potency, homogeneity, mold, microbials, contaminants, pesticides, etc.
    * Purchasing product that is clearly dosed and marked.

Those last four dot-points are crucial.

Think about beer. American beer consumers take it for granted that the brew they drink today tastes the same as it did the last time they drank it. They naturally expect breweries are regulated enough so consumers are always drinking quality, uncontaminated products. And they have long been able to see how potent a beer is by casually glancing at the label.

Right now, under the black market, none of that is possible.

And imagine if every time you wanted a beer you had to find a lawbreaker who was willing to sell it to you. Maybe you get cheated or robbed or arrested, or at least forced to hang out with shady mopes. And if you do succeed, you could very well be funding an often violent national criminal network. And then you have to worry about getting busted while carrying it around. Is it any wonder why people don’t mind paying taxes to purchase and possess a legalized product?

* Related…

* Illinois expungement proposal for pot convictions one of nation’s broadest: Illinois would go farther than California in at least one respect when it comes to helping people clear records and reduce barriers to employment, education and housing, O’Keefe said.

* Archdiocese opposes legal pot — so does drug firm where top church executive works: Betsy Bohlen received $145,000 in compensation while on the board of Insys Therapeutics, an embattled pharmaceutical company that has said legal marijuana could hurt its profits.

* Sen. Linda Holmes: Facts vs. fear in legalization debate: After four years of inaction, Springfield is finally having serious conversations about fixing our financial problems, reforming the criminal justice system, and improving safety for people of all ages. Legalizing cannabis makes inroads in all three areas.

* Moylan: Don’t boost another addiction-for-profit industry

* David L. Nathan, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation: Cassidy is right: Teen cannabis use is down since pot legalization: As physicians, we follow the best scientific evidence, not cherry-picked data. The people of Illinois deserve to know the facts. It’s time for Illinois to join with the growing number of states that recognize that the legalization, regulation and taxation of adult-use recreational cannabis promotes public safety, while its prohibition hinders it.

* Ammons Wants Stronger Reforms In Cannabis Bill: “If I have a marijuana charge, and I may have robbed a bank and they found a little marijuana on me, and they charged me with that up-charge. Take away the marijuana charge. I’ll still deal with the bank robbery,” she said.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:33 am:

    Reefer Madness is so strong in 2019. But voters strongly support legalization. Hopefully a longer game is played, where Pritzker and his allies can back primary candidates to pick off enough seats to pass this, should it fail now.

  2. - Ok - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    I think when we are all close to an issue, we really feel especially burned when any opposition gets outside the bounds of reality to push against it.

  3. - Alrighty then - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:47 am:

    Exactly WHAT are the legalization opponents smoking to come up with these lies?

  4. - Pundent - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:48 am:

    You have legislation that’s overwhelmingly supported by people in this state and a minority opposition who’s arguments are laughable on their face.

    If Pritzker and the democrats can’t get cannabis through given the incredibly strong support for it in this state, it doesn’t bode well for the graduated tax or any other signature accomplishments during the next four years.

  5. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:49 am:

    Would not be surprised if it fails, when have Illinois dems not passed on a chance to quickly approve legislation that was very popular? They’re always been better at giving lip service to popular policies than they are at actually passing those policies. Raising the minimum wage was popular too, it only took them what? 10 years to pass that? Nobody seems to be too concerned with what JB wants, and reps don’t seem to be scared of voting against him on this at all. JB doesn’t seem like he and his his staff are working this bill all that hard (unless it’s all behind the scenes). I haven’t seen any ads from JB, nor from proponents. At this rate we’ll have legalization by 2028 or 2029.

  6. - Jeffery Lewbowski - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    Legalize it, regulate it, tax it and lets get the special interest groups who see their pockets getting lighter, out of the way. At this point i’m surprised the paper industry isn’t fighting against this.

  7. - wordslinger - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    –And yet, they do not critique a single line from the proposed Illinois legislation.–

    Just how much time do the tronclodytes actually need to read the bill? Would it help if someone read it out loud to them? Maybe set aside some time after recess, or milk and graham crackers?

    It’s been obvious for many years that actual deep-dive research (or even reading their own news pages) is not something that comes easily to them. But that doesn’t stop them from drawing conclusions based on previous bias.

  8. - Grandson of Man - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:54 am:

    “democrats can’t get cannabis through given the incredibly strong support for it in this state”

    The bill and graduated income tax CA have to make it to the GA floor for votes. Put names behind those votes. That should make it clearer what the next steps should be for proponents.

  9. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:56 am:

    Needs labor and Illinois protections. These should be good middle class jobs.

  10. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 9:59 am:

    Tired of opponents saying take your time on this. We have been talking and proposing this for years now. Totally disingenuous. Michigan will get a lot of business from Illinois if we can’t get this done this session.

  11. - Earnest Not Borgnine - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    The bill as it currently sits is 500+ pages long. An official summary of the most pertinent points regarding licenses, fees, and taxation might help explain the framework being proposed to people who aren’t inclined to read a novel’s worth of text and can’t be bothered to read much beyond headlines.

  12. - TheInvisibleMan - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:03 am:

    One thing I’ve learned during the whole cannabis discussion, is that the Illinois State Police have a severe professionalism problem at all levels that needs to be addressed.

  13. - Moby - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:04 am:

    I really don’t understand the opposition to legalization other than just plain old fear of the perceived unknown. I mean you can go out right now and buy a gallon of Roundup and do whatever you want with it, but you can’t buy a few grams of a plant.

  14. - Kentucky Bluegrass x Featherbed Bent x Northern California Sinsemilla - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:06 am:

    That made it illegal with racist fear mongering and now it is staying illegal with fear mongering. 80+ years of another failed prohibition on a substance people want and are consuming despite it being illegal yet we act like we aren’t repeating history.

  15. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    I am disappointed that the sponsors seemingly immediately caved regarding home grow. Why not try and fight and convince lawmakers? Why take it all away? Maybe just one plant allowed for non medical folks. Said that, it appears that reefer madness with some of our lawmakers is still strong. It would be nice to have a representative government where lawmakers follow the will of the people.

  16. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:15 am:

    Another thing that is disappointing. Why was the cannabis bill the last thing this session? They can’t walk and chew gum at the same time and talk about this sooner in the process and have it done by now?

  17. - njt - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    The difference between the Moylan and Holmes columns are night and day.

  18. - LINK - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:33 am:

    Illinois Resident

    Maybe some of those legislators who state opposition to home grown (or any legal cannabis) see the writing on the wall and feel that if state government controls it all, then the major players get all the action and owe their profits to said legislators.

    With my tin foil hat on still, it reminds me in some ways of Chicago Aldermen controlling permits and the like. That if you really want something, you will require their support.

    I agree some legislators still live in the times of Reefer Madness BUT with an overwhelming majority of Illinois citizens in support - and you know that most if not all the current legislators (except maybe Madigan) have been exposed in some fashion to the use of cannabis products - then why hide behind the Reefer Madness facade?

    For a number of those legislators who still state their opposition, I just have to believe they base it on something else other than the best interests of their constituents.

    Just my two cents.

  19. - XonXoff - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:37 am:

    After 80 years, there are now thousands of budgets and incomes wrapped around, and dependent upon cannabis prohibition, including law enforcement, forced rehab, medical cannabis licensees, alcohol and pharmaceutical revenues. Widespread re-legalization is potentially disruptive to many companies and departments. There’s a lot of money on the line and some legislators won’t vote the will of the people for whatever reasons they quietly hold to themselves. I blame myself for expecting better in Illinois.

    Yellow Journalism is nothing new to cannabis prohibition. Nowadays, for a desperate print media it’s clickbait for a dying subscriber base.

    If homegrow or all of this falls through, I’ll ponder voting with my wallet, where I actually still retain some control. I’m ~10 minutes from the state line and in many cases we can save a good bit of money shopping over there.

  20. - Jocko - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 10:45 am:

    ==how to minimize unwanted consequences==

    unwanted or unimagined?

  21. - Illinois res. - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    The weed syndicate grows for max profit. Uses pesticide and biocides. It’s never inspected for mold or residual contaminates. If I was a consumer I would be adamant that the goverment watchdog so I could go obtain a pure product.

  22. - To much - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 11:39 am:

    This is an issue that is to heavy for a legislature. Except for Vermont. To much push back from the weed syndicate. Which has a lot riding on this. And I guess a lot of reputable people on their campaign contribution list.corruption runs deep in Illinois

  23. - {Sigh} - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    Look at the number of lobbyist the cannabis association hired last week. {sigh}

  24. - Chris P. Bacon - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    Amazing so many want to forget that weed remains a Schedule 1 drug along with heroin and meth, illegal under federal law. You can argue it shouldn’t be, but the fact is that’s still the law of the land and federal law is supreme.

  25. - Kentucky Bluegrass x Featherbed Bent x Northern California Sinsemilla - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    ===fact is that’s still the law of the land and federal law is supreme===

    Check out that 10th amendment to the US Constitution, it’s a doozy. And just to split hairs, meth is a schedule two drug and many kids are prescribed it’s analog adderall.

  26. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 1:23 pm:

    Link - I think you bring up a really good point. They are not fighting for home grow because they don’t care enough too and it does not serve their political interest.

  27. - John - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    Free speech is banned on Capitol fax. Just like anything else to do with illinois politics.

  28. - Illinois Resident - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    John are you a republican snowflake?

  29. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:25 pm:

    ===Free speech is banned ===

    Nope. Just morons.

  30. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 3:26 pm:

    ===John are you a republican snowflake? ===

    Home grow extremist.

  31. - Josh - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 4:34 pm:

    If home grow is stricken from the bill then the bill has lost my support. I have zero faith it will ever get added in at a later date, and would rather hold out for a better bill. If they truly want home grow out, then give me an up or down vote on an amendment regarding home grow.

  32. - Rich Miller - Monday, May 20, 19 @ 6:08 pm:

    ===then the bill has lost my support===

    Well, that’s definitely a killer. /s

  33. - Josh - Tuesday, May 21, 19 @ 7:39 pm:

    ===Well, that’s definitely a killer. /s ===

    In a sense it might actually be. I represent a common sentiment on the progressive left side of this issue. If the authors of the bill keep offering concessions trying to secure votes from the middle they eventually start losing votes on the left. Look at Carol Ammons in Champaign. How much more can the bill get watered down before reps like her balk?

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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