Monday, January 20, 2020

Legal pot in Illinois: not a big deal

     My parents live in Boulder, Colorado.
     News that causes eyes to light up. How awesome, people exclaim. I smile and say nothing. To me, it’s as if I said I went fishing and got mauled by a bear and they replied, “Fishing! I love fishing! What did you catch?”
     Visiting Boulder regularly since 1973 gives me perspective on its changes. Growing mobs of fitness freaks, sprawling tracts of condos, more every year, crowding out the Rockies. I am never reluctant to come home to Chicago.
     I happened to be in Boulder on Jan. 1, 2014, when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana and was struck by the newspapers standing on chairs, cheering. Every part of every paper was tossing fistfuls of confetti.
     The Denver Post’s home section told readers how to cultivate pot gardens. How to bake pot brownies. Even the “fit!” section: “THC: The powerhouse behind your pot!” No aspect went unexplored: Your dog, could its parasites make your pot plants sick? Somehow the comics remained aloof.
     Yes, it’s news. But the media then goes overboard and starts ballyhooing certain minor vices. Take the lottery. Much celebration of enormous payouts. Occasional dutiful whispers about remote odds of winning. When Powerball rolls over, rapt reportage of the astronomical jackpot. Few observe the rollover also means you could have bought every single ticket sold and still lost.
     Now it’s marijuana’s turn. For the record, I’m glad Illinois legalized it. The federal government should, too.
     Being on medical leave, letting my new titanium hip settle in, I’ve had time to read the coverage welcoming legal pot since Jan. 1. Numerous reports of eager customers lining up in the pre-dawn chill. Of the Chicago City Council bickering over divvying up the pie.
     Every opinion expressed, except the one I formed after five years of legal pot in Colorado: It’s no big deal. People who already partake will pay more, get better product, and the state will get a tax bonanza that, being the state, it will mostly squander. A few folks will be emboldened to give it a try.

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  1. I've smelled pot on a few CTA buses since November. The entire bus reeks of it!

  2. Good article keeping everything in perspective. Just a couple IS a big deal for all the convicted folks who will now be released from serving absurdly unfair sentences for simple possession. Also, "you will probably never see a high person" is simply not true. You have seen countless people under the influence; you just don't realize it.

  3. Haven't used since 1986. Haven't noticed public usage any more today than back then. Did smoke it at every Chicago music venue except the Symphony and Auditorium. Yes to all Chicago sports arenas/stadiums and both Disney theme parks. That was us up wind from you on the gondolas. Legalization won't induce a relapse, unless future health problems indicate a need. With mass produced ingestibles available, most public users will go unnoticed.

  4. I just hope it gets easier to buy. I waited a week or so after the New Year, but it was still more than an hour in line.

  5. Had a Cheech and Chong moment yesterday driving South on Harlem from Oak Park. The SUV behind me, which I kept watching because I initially thought it was a police vehicle, hung back at least 30 feet from me at every stop light -- seemed like pot behavior, but who am I to judge?


  6. I remember reading and hearing about ridiculous prices when the weed shops opened in Denver and Boulder. Fifteen bucks a joint? When recreational pot became legal in Michigan, two of my friends told me they were getting quality stuff and paying LESS than they had been paying their dealers. They're chronic, chain-smoking potheads. They consume it like it's tobacco, and the pipe is always lit when they're boozing, which is most of the time. Another friend in Florida says the same pot is cheaper.

    I don't know what to believe anymore. With all the overhead a business would have that "the man with the bag" does, employee wages, utilities, growing equipment, packaging, and the like, wouldn't legal weed would be more expensive, and not less? But the buyers I know tell me just the opposite. The stores move vast quantities of product, so maybe that lowers prices.

    Since I live in the benighted state of Ohio, which also took forever to legalize casino gambling, I won't be finding out any time soon. The Bible-thumpers who dominate our statehouse, and who still call marijuana a "gateway" drug, are forcing would-be growers and business owners to jump through all kinds of hoops. A handful of licenses, in a state with the population of Illinois? And this is merely for medical cannabis. Recreational pot in Ohio is still light-years away.

    I would kill to be able to live in a more enlightened and progressive state, and to snarkily say: "Good-bye, Columbus!" Meanwhile, Ohio's lost revenue fills Michigan's coffers, thanks to all the Buckeye coughers (wink, nudge).

  7. I just googled the expense of legal pot over buying on the street. While I probably should have read some of the articles, the links said legal pot was more expensive. It is probably true you get better product legally and different types of pot. Of course the more competition there is legal pot might become cheaper until the little guy gets swallowed up by a few big corporations.

  8. How can one find more louche quarters than Northbrook? Glenview maybe. Kidding aside, I'm with Neil on this. The smell is not all that offensive -- rather like the autumn air in Chicago suburbs when we were allowed to burn our fallen leaves. And as my last visit to Amsterdam attests it is quickly dispersed outside enclosed spaces; no competition for the aromas of the day's catch of fish and eels and open displays of ripening Gouda.

    There seems to be no question that the social cost of regulation has outweighed the undeniable damage to a minority of users. Not a user myself -- or a habitual gambler-- I feel a slight twinge to my social conscience at the thought of lowering my tax burden at the cost of abetting the addictions of others. But a wee dram of Single Malt with the merest splash of water makes it go away.


  9. Welcome back to the paper column.


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