* The Tribune takes a team-coverage look at a significant aspect of suburban opposition to approving local cannabis sales…
In several suburbs, crowds of protesters — many of them Chinese Americans brought out by social media — wore identical Opt Out shirts, carried signs, signed petitions and helped convince local officials to prohibit marijuana sales. […]
Activists said they shared their concerns with a broader audience through WeChat, a China-based multilingual messaging app, similar to Facebook, which claims more than 1 billion users.
Critics complained that Opt Out consisted of the same group of protesters going from town to town. While some people attended meetings in more than one suburb, and got their identical signs and T-shirts from the same group, Asian American Advocacy, organizers maintained that protesters mainly consisted of residents of each municipality.
Many in the movement are Chinese immigrants who share conservative, family-first values, according to Cynthia Hopkins of Hinsdale, a volunteer with Asian American Advocacy. Influenced by a history that includes the drug trade related to the Opium Wars of the 1800s, she said, many parents are motivated to minimize their children’s exposure to addictive drugs. Protesters also raised concerns about rising incidents of emergency room visits and traffic accidents involving marijuana users, and the fact that the drug remains illegal under federal law.
“It’s a perfect issue to show there’s so much potential with the Asian Americans,” Hopkins said. “Once they’re organized, they’re a force, they make sure their voice is heard.”
After hearing about large Asian-American crowds at several local council meetings a couple of months ago, I reached out to some folks in the polling business who told me that some of the most intense opposition to legalization comes from older Asian-Americans.