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Marijuana ballot question replaces what lawmakers should ask voters

Belleville News Democrat

Saturday, March 3, 2018  |  Editorial  |  By the Editorial Board

Drugs (32) , Election Issues (not candidates) (39) , Medical Marijuana
Illinois state senators last week decided 37-13 that they should ask Illinois voters in November whether recreational marijuana should be legalized, regulated and taxed.

If it were to pass the Illinois House, state lawmakers would not be required to follow the will of the people. The referendum would simply be a giant opinion poll.

What a waste of time.

First, there are already plenty of opinion polls on this subject. The Pew Research Center just asked that question nationally, and found 61 percent of Americans support legalizing pot.

Do Illinois lawmakers really expect a different answer here?

Of course not. What they are after is first, political cover so they can legalize pot and tax the bejeezus out of it, and second, campaign cash before and after their various votes on legalization.

Results from the 2016 election brought about new rules on the use of recreational and medicinal marijuana in several states, with more than half now allowing for the later. Federal government leaders including president-elect Trump have voiced their opinion on the changing state of mind around marijuana. Is this the beginning of the end of marijuana prohibition?

If they really cared about our opinions, there are much better questions. They could ask about term limits, independent legislative district mapping, a balanced state budget, pension reform or government consolidation.

Not only don't they care about those answers, Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan went to great lengths to prevent the independent map referendum from making it onto the ballot.

Remember, a lot of politicians are lawyers. They know you never ask a question in court, or in the court of public opinion, to which you don't already know the answer.