Wednesday, April 25, 2018

‘Reefer Madness’-type rhetoric bound to swarm over Ill.; will Lege ignore it?

Try watching the 1936 film “Reefer Madness” today. Its imagery is so over-the-top absurd that it’s a wonder anybody ever could have taken such thought seriously.

Worse than 'Plan 9 from Outer Space?'

Yet I’m not going to be surprised if some people are determined to cling to such thoughts of people being driven insane by inhaling the fumes of the so-called “wacky tobacky.” Either that, or the image of marijuana as a “hippie drug,” which makes their continued pursuit of criminalization more about partisan politics than any legitimate concern about health.

THIS POLITICAL FIGHT is going to step up in coming months, as it appears the Illinois General Assembly may well take up bills that would consider legalizing the recreational use of the drug.

Currently, people in Illinois would need to show a doctor’s prescription, and then could only purchase it from specific places that have been licensed by the state to operate under such restrictive rules that it’s clear the political people who concocted them were determined to maintain the stigma of marijuana use being borderline criminal.

As for whether the state Legislature would actually go along with legalization (instead of mere decriminalization), it seems the key on this issue is just as it is on many others – will Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, go along with it?

If he does, it could wind up getting a vote and passing – with potential future Gov. J.B. Pritzker campaigning now on the idea that legalization (and taxation of marijuana sales by the state) is good.

MADIGAN THIS WEEK said he, “haven’t come to a final decision,” but acknowledged that the mood of the people changes with the passage of time. “For American political parties, they have to be aware of what the people want. When American political parties are not aware of that, they usually dissolve.”
Are some determined to cling to these kinds of thoughts?
Could it be that Madigan noticed the results of the advisory referendum question that was on Cook County ballots in last month’s primary – the one asking people “yes” or “no” whether recreational use by people 21 or older ought to be legal.

Basically making the consumption of marijuana similar to having a drink (and treating a ‘junkie’ similar to an alcoholic).

Within Chicago, 73 percent of people voted “yes,” along with 63 percent of suburban Cook residents. Either way, well over the three-fifths support level required for a referendum to pass.

NOW, WE’LL HAVE to see whether the almighty, all-powerful Mr. Speaker of Illinois is willing to change with the times and permit his Democratic caucus to consider the issue.

Because I’m sure it would involve some sense of change on his part, although it’s not impossible to see it happening. I can recall times when anti-abortion activists in Illinois would say they considered Madigan to be an ally because his own Catholic religious beliefs were in line with them, and he would not use his political power to crush their bills meant to make abortion more difficult to obtain.

I doubt those people are willing to say anything nice about Madigan these days; what with the measures of recent years that are meant to restrict many of those restrictions the ideologues push for as an alternative to outright illegalization of the medical procedure.

Madigan could wind up evolving on this issue, too. Particularly if he comes to see that a majority of the people no longer cling to some nonsensical “Reefer Madness” imagery (Blanche’s maniacal piano playing bit is just too ludicrous).

PERSONALLY, I THINK that marijuana use has become so overly politicized to the point where there’s little logic in the laws restricting its use. Although I’m not surprised that some political people merely see the potential for more tax dollars and are eager to support it for that reason alone.

Will marijuana inspire similar thoughts?
I wasn’t kidding earlier when I wrote the comparison between a drug user and an alcoholic – the latter of whom we’re inclined to think of as someone in need of treatment. And yes, I can already hear in my mind the outrage of conservative ideologues – particularly the ones who drink too much – in making such a comparison.

Perhaps it’s time we consider this issue without much of the nonsense-talk of old. After all, we did the same with alcohol and prohibition some 84 years ago.

Could that actually put the political power of the newly re-elected Illinois Democratic chairman on a higher moral plane? It’s bound to be a heck of a partisan fight.


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