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Illinois’ Legislative Procrastination Extravaganza: A POTpourri of Issues

Before the legislative session ended, the Illinois General Assembly addressed legalizing recreational marijuana and several other issues.

While some say that puns are the lowest form of humor, my personal view is that legalizing pot is the lowest form of legislative achievement. So a pun is appropriate here.

Eleven states have now legalized recreational marijuana. Obviously, Illinois is the most recent addition to this list.

According to WGN, the bill “would allow those 21 and older to buy marijuana at licensed dispensaries beginning next year. Residents could possess up to one ounce (30 grams) and non-residents could have 15 grams. [Governor] Pritzker called for legalization in his campaign for governor. He has pledged to sign the law.”

Last year, I wrote several articles on Michigan’s push to legalize the devil’s lettuce. I will draw one main distinction between the two states.

Michigan legalized recreational marijuana through ballot initiative. Illinois did this via statute.

If you remember, one of my complaints about the process in Michigan is that the direct democracy approach, on it’s face, is less likely to result in wise policy for the simple fact that the whole mass of the people cannot conduct hearings, hear evidence, and listen to expert testimony regarding issues that may become law. That is one of the many benefits of having a representative constitutional republic. It is the job of elected officials to grow in their understanding of issues and to be able to make wise decisions in light of evidence, logic, and other information that the general public might not be considering. It’s not that elected officials are smarter than the average person, it’s just that elected officials are paid to make law.

It would appear that the Illinois approach has more legitimacy than a ballot initiative, but then we see that the democrat controlled state government sat on its hands for most of the session and waited until the last minute to enact this for easy political points.

While some commenters took issue with my piece on Alex Berenson’s book on marijuana, citing the correlation/causation problem that Berenson himself addressed in his book, the marijuana debate is fraught with lousy data. Not in quality, but in quantity. We just don’t have a whole lot of information on it. And when we do get it, potheads indignantly trot out the “correlation is not causation” bit as if we are all children who don’t already understand that. Like smokers who insist that smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer. The existence of a link between the two is not causation by any means, but a lack of causation does not mean that one never contributes to the other.

The mere possibility that marijuana *MIGHT* contribute to the progression or development of mental illness and psychotic violence should be enough for state governments to pause and say, “you know, we are going to sit back and watch for data coming out of Colorado, Michigan, Alaska etc. and look at crime rates, accident rates, healthcare costs, and prevalence of mental illness and related violence, before we make a decision that would put our public at greater risk for an assortment of issues related to legalizing recreational pot.”

A body like the Illinois General Assembly would have been able to do that sort of fact finding. It instead made a partisan push for legislative achievement.

The Potpourri of Issues

In addition to legalizing pot, the General Assembly also passed bills on public works, minimum wage, sports betting, gambling, and reaffirming their commitment to the pagan god Moloch.

It’s all been done in the spirit of procrastination, where the democratic controlled legislative and executive branches waited until the end of their legislative session to pass anything of significance.

WGN said this, “Big decision are being made all in one day. As one Republican pointed out the General Assembly is being asked to spend $80 billion on bill that they’ve had less than 12 hours to read.”

At least when Rauner was Govenor, nothing got done. That kept the state from screwing over its people. Now, Pritzker and Madigan can do so with ease.

Welcome to the Land of Lincoln: Where you can smoke pot, kill your baby, and accrue governmental debt all in a matter of days.

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