Jun 24, 2019
Illinois legalized marijuana at the end of the legislative session this month, a policy that will take effect at the beginning of next year. The change came packaged along with a wide range of taxes, as well as the expansion of legalized gambling in the state.
Since the early seventies, marijuana possession has served as the pretext to snare millions into the clutches of the criminal justice system. Police have conducted countless stop-and-frisk searches on the streets for small amounts of marijuana – with the scourge of the resulting incarceration falling most heavily on the black population.
Did the politicians just discover this intolerable injustice? Are they finally waking up to the deep racism ingrained in that policy of mass incarceration? Not at all. In fact, the main motivation for legalizing marijuana is to bring more money into the state’s coffers. That is, the political class is perfectly willing to balance the budget by allowing more of the state’s population to get doped up.
We cannot pretend that marijuana consumption is harmless. Many have family members who are habitual users, and understand these users are addicted. People addicted to marijuana may not spiral downwards dramatically, as happens with heroin and opioids. But it certainly numbs people to the world – and serves as a way to get people to accept this society as it is.
The politicians could find ways to tax the wealthy and the corporations. Instead they do this – what amounts to a tax, both financial and moral, on the working population.