I Support Ending the Prohibition on Cannabis, Industrial Hemp

Attorney General Jeff Sessions just yesterday rescinded an Obama-era guideline to allow States autonomy on deciding whether to legalize cannabis sales. Sessions’ decision now puts small business at risk for Federal raids and asset seizures, including our own medical dispensaries that are heavily regulated and controlled already.

I have been and continue to be in support of ending the prohibition on cannabis for many reasons. This is just one of the ways I have demonstrated true Progressive values and set myself apart from my opponent.

Today, I am happy to see that a bill introduced in the House now has 20 co-sponsors where previous efforts had none. If elected, I will not only support such efforts but help garner wider support for its passage.  (HR 1227) https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1227

The reasons why are clear:

Help Illinois’ Deficit and Cannabis Sales

Cannabis sales in 2017 for medical use here in Illinois raised $3M in a slow, heavily regulated and restrictive system. The list of medical conditions that qualify for Green Cards is very limited, despite the ever increasing rise in deaths and costs associated with our heroin and opioid crisis. We can do better for our own communities and must. To do so we will need the tax revenue and a change in mindset.

(Read: Trumpcare is a Disaster for Illinois’ Drug Epidemic)

Colorado netted over $500M in annual sales taxes just from recreational use alone. Forbes is projecting tax revenues in states with legalized marijuana will reach $1.8 billion while Illinois is falling behind. Remember, sales are still happening here now, but going to support illegal drug cartels instead of responsible Illinois business owners. We can change this.

States that have ended prohibition compromised and taxed cannabis sales at a higher rate, a vice tax, which businesses agreed to and have still been successful and able to employ tens of thousands of people, helped train new entrepreneurs and deferred the high cost of criminalization and incarceration.

Green Economy and Conservation through Industrial Hemp

Hemp was once used a biofuel source and an alternative oil to manufacture plastics to produce materials that were solid, functional, and also biodegradable. Instead of petroleum oil, our state plastic manufactures could be using industrial hemp oil, grown and cultivated right here in our state.

The benefit of allowing for hemp production here in Illinois is clear – one acre of hemp seeds is worth $12,0001 compared to one acre of corn, valued at approximately $760. This would help our family farms while producing hemp seeds that can be used for food and biofuels.

Protect State’s Rights

Vermont passed legalization last week in their state house. Massachusetts is already preparing for legal sales. Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Missouri, Virginia, and even Ohio are now taking steps to follow through with ending the prohibition and criminalization process. Here, in Illinois, we’ve begin the work to do the same. We must be allowed to continue the process without the threat of Federal raids and asset seizures.

What does it tell you when even the head of a Koch backed lobby group agrees? Freedom Partners Chairman Mark Holden lambasted Sessions’ decision saying, “…we are disappointed by the Attorney General’s decision to undermine the 10th Amendment, which gives states the right to enact and enforce their own laws.”

Government Serves the People

President Trump promised not to interfere with the cannabis industry and yet his own Attorney General has rocked the country with this decision. Even large corporations aren’t immune as cannabis stocks fell when the news spread and our own American company, Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. , who adapted to support cannabis and hemp cultivators, suffered a 5.2% drop in value, reporting their largest decline in over a year.

Recent polling from Gallup shows that support for legalization is at its highest point in nearly five decades with the majority of Republicans now supporting legalizing marijuana. Among active voters, over 73% oppose federal interference with state cannabis laws.

Now, the people within states that allow for medicinal use like ours have to hope our own States Attorney offices will not act on Sessions’ policies. That is no way to do business nor serve the people of our state.

I need your support on March 20 to help ensure we can end prohibition at a legislative level and remove the power from Jeff Sessions on this issue permanently.

 

1.  An acre that only produces 600 pounds of seeds would yield about $12,784 worth of hemp seeds. USDA ERS Report

 

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