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Chinese-Americans a strong force behind local cannabis opt-out pushes

Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

* 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.

…Adding… Hmm…

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Oak Parker - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:38 am:

    “Older Asian-Americans”

    That is some super-super-targeted polling

  2. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:41 am:

    It’s fine to protest and opt out, but many other local governments have opted in. That’s the beauty of this law: choice. The support for legal marijuana outweighs the opposition by a good margin. The majority of voters have said enough to destructive prohibition and lack of freedom. There are probably many Asian-Americans who support marijuana legalization and local sales.

  3. - Unpopular - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:44 am:

    thank god for these people.

  4. - Jocko - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    ==Once they’re organized, they’re a force==

    A force for good or ill? They could very well be astroturfing to drive up demand (and prices) in neighboring suburbs.

  5. - education first - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    Not to mention rude, loud, provided totally baseless testimony, and didn’t seem to understand or respect the process of the individual municipality. It has been alleged that a conservative group in IL is funding their campaign.

  6. - LoyalVirus - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    That explains the pic from the Naperville council meeting where they were debating recreational cannabis. A head scratcher considering the ethnic make-up of that area, but I get it now.

  7. - lake county democrat - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 10:59 am:

    I applaud their civic involvement at least. My bigger take from the article is that some of these middle/upper class burbs are approving local sales and, like gay marriage, the ensuing nothingburger will lead to a lot of changed minds.

  8. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    Local control is a great thing until the vote goes against your wishes.

  9. - Nuke the Whales - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    A 501(c)4 established in July 2018 that uses a virtual office mailing address whose sole news coverage is about Asian American Advocacy being a dark money group for Republicans opposes marijuana? I’m just shocked.

  10. - Al - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:36 am:

    China had opium forced upon it by cannon fire of European and American naval ships. It was forced trade to gain China street silver to pay for goods. This could be an influencing factor?

  11. - DuPage Saint - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:48 am:

    I am not sure this would be legal but I think town halls or village meetings should all be restricted to people that live in that town or district that is holding meeting. Busing or using social media to bring in non residence to influence a local issue seems unfair

  12. - bo - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 11:49 am:

    ~~It has been alleged that a conservative group in IL is funding their campaign~~

    Well, the name printed on the full color glossy handouts in Naperville was “Asian American GOP Coalition”. Somebody spent an awful lot of money on shirts, flyers, etc.

    They were lots of their members before and after the labor day parade in Naperville. The only participants in the parade were marching with Jeanne Ives.

    The group gave to one out of state federal candidate in ‘18. Roy Moore.

  13. - Maryjane - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 12:16 pm:

    I’ve mentioned once before, I believe; that this is exactly the very same bovine manure that played out in discussion after discussion in towns across California. What is heartening, however, is that here in my new state, there is a heck of a lot more awareness of their activities and organization as well as an incredibly refreshing appetite to actually push-back.

    I’ve mentioned as well, before, the need, I see, for a Cannabis Consumer PAC, not related to any politics or industry; pure advocacy armed with solid facts to refute calmly and directly, this sort of nonsense as well as the machinations of the moneyed stakeholders.

  14. - Johnnie F. - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 1:03 pm:

    I watched our Village Board meeting where it was decided. Public commenters are required to give name and address before speaking. Most speakers form this group did not live in our community. Board members made it clear that they welcomed the comments, but the decision would be made with the feedback from residents of our community. Our town opt’d in…thankfully.

  15. - Ron Burgundy - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 1:08 pm:

    Seems like a lot of fear mongering, perhaps with the exception of the concern over traffic accidents, which do appear to have risen in states that have legalized. That part does concern me.

  16. - Unstable Genius - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    It would be great if a journalist would compare the demographics and crime statistics of typical municipalities that have “opted out” vs not “opted out”. Would be interesting reading.

  17. - Dollie - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    So, this flyer is not Chinese writing, it’s Korean. Probably most appropriate to always references as just Asian American

  18. - Kentucky Bluegrass x Featherbed Bent x Northern California Sinsemilla - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 3:32 pm:

    Give it a few years and we will see how many of these communities are still opting out

  19. - Donnie Elgin - Tuesday, Nov 19, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    ” Public commenters are required to give name and address before speaking.”

    The PAC issued a binding opinion that requiring speakers to give a home address in order to offer public comment is a violation of THE OMA

  20. - Suburban Mom - Wednesday, Nov 20, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    This group harvested e-mails from online PTA directories and used them to send extremely irritating and factually incorrect e-mails demanding we show up to oppose marijuana legalization in our town and insisting they spoke for the community. Plenty of people were furious at this misuse of the directories (they would have had at least one member who was a parent in the school district to get those addresses), but I’m even more nonplussed to find out that my personal e-mail address (that I use for very limited purposes; I have a more public e-mail address for other things) is now in the hands of a dark-money GOP group.

    This group’s claim that they’re informed by this history of Opium in China is weird, given that the first laws banning marijuana in North America — in Canada — were tacked on to opium bans, which were pushed by groups like the Asiatic Exclusion League who wanted to stop Asian immigration to North America entirely. Opium was outlaws on the basis that it lured white women and girls to consort with Asian men and “corrupt the white race,” and marijuana was tacked on to this for the same reason. So it feels weird for Asian Americans to be advocating to keep marijuana bans in place that were designed not so much to control dangerous substances, but to keep Asians out of North America. I guess not a lot of people are aware of the racist and anti-Asian origins of marijuana bans in the US and Canada and that’s fine, but I am aware and MAN it feels weird to watch people advocating for laws that were designed to exclude them from the US.

  21. - Veil of Ignorance - Wednesday, Dec 4, 19 @ 10:53 am:

    This is sadly the early stages of MAGA moving into the Asian American community in a bit more organized fashion with some resources behind it. Wish these conservative Asian Americans were as offended and motivated to speak out against the growing White Nationalism in the party.

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