* 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?
* 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.