Will Illinois Choose Pot Before Jobs?

In a high tax state that’s bankrupt and losing residents, one might think that our government officials would have better things to do than legalizing pot (marijuana). And one would be wrong. Especially when taxing marijuana is seen as yet another source of revenue for the tax coffers.

The Illinois Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems (ICAAAP) issued an alert this week bringing attention to the fact that there will be an advisory referendum on the Cook County Ballot calling on the state to legalize marijuana. The ICAAAP alert excerpted from a news report:

Cook County voters will get their say on whether recreational marijuana use should be made legal for adults in Illinois, after commissioners on Wednesday voted to put that question on the March primary ballot.

Since Cook County has 40 percent of the state’s population, the vote coming in the midst of a legislative session could influence state lawmakers.

In Senator Kyle McCarter’s email newsletter, he provided an information-laden update under the heading, “Illinois Puts Pot Before Jobs”:

As the current year comes to a close we’ve seen more legislative attention paid to legalizing marijuana than we have Illinois’ lagging economy and job creation. The priorities leave much to be desired.

One media report notes that several “Democratic candidates for governor have embraced the proposal, saying it would bring badly needed revenue to the state and reduce black market and gang control of an existing industry.”

And it’s not just Democrats. Republican State Senator Jason Barickman, who calls himself a fiscal conservative, believes that legalizing and taxing marijuana and thus raising even more taxes by “broadening the tax base” qualifies as fiscal conservatism. Barickman is touting his “open mindedness.”

Sen. McCarter asked a question that some open minded advocates probably would prefer go unanswered:

What about the societal costs associated with undermining the dynamics of long-standing, common sense arguments that have been employed to combat the use of harmful and illegal drugs?

With recreational pot Illinois may be allowing a culture of corruption in Illinois to continue, at the expense of our most precious state asset: the bright minds of the next generation; our sons, daughters, and grandchildren.

Balancing out “fiscal conservative” state Sen. Barickman is Leftist Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Massachusetts U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. Under the heading “Prioritizing Pot Profits,” Sen. McCarter writes:

It appears potential abuse and addiction don’t rate as high as “profiting from addiction,” which is how former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy characterized it in a recent opinion column.

Kennedy took off the gloves in New Jersey as that state debates legalization:

Do you want a pot shop selling marijuana-infused candies, sodas, and ice cream in your neighborhood? Do you want to make it easier for an industry that profits on addiction to reach even more youth? If you care about Jersey kids, the answer is probably no. And that’s exactly why we should reject the legalization of marijuana in the Garden State.

McCarter adds that “Kennedy noted serious problems experienced by Washington State and Colorado, two states that have legalized so-called recreational marijuana”:

States with legal marijuana are witnessing increased use among youth and doubled rates of fatal driving crashes. These states have also failed to shore up state budget shortfalls with marijuana taxes; continue to see a thriving illegal black market; and are experiencing unabated sales of alcohol, despite campaign promises from advocates stating that marijuana would be a “safer” alternative.

Colorado’s problems are so evident that after five years, the Colorado Springs Gazette recognizes legalization as an “embarrassing cautionary tale.”

To read Senator Kyle McCarter’s entire newsletter update (including the section titled “Illinois Needs Jobs Not Joints”), click here.