Making Good of a Bad Situation

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryI was at a city hall meeting a few weeks ago where the issue before the city council was allowing cannabis (marijuana) dispensaries for medical and recreational use within the city limits. All of the residents at this public hearing were totally against having any cannabis dispensaries in their city, and they made that clear to the city council. Their arguments were that it would lead to more crimes, more domestic violence, and would encourage their children to try the stuff. They also argued that it would mean the city would have to hire more police and more medical emergency technicians to deal with the number of people who get too “high” on marijuana. While they could not stop the fact that Illinois will legalize cannabis, they want to keep the stuff out of their community. Some of the residents in the audience pointed to analytical information from Colorado about how cannabis has negatively impacted the communities there, and hence they wish to avoid the dilemma that Colorado residents are facing.

There was no one at the public hearing that spoke out in favor of legalizing cannabis. Their view was “not in our backyard.” The major problem here is that it is in their backyard. Before Illinois voted to legalize cannabis, too people were trying it, too many people were getting hooked, and the fact that it was illegal meant that the costs for imprisoning such people as well as court costs and lost revenue due to those people unable to find jobs because they had a felony conviction on their records certainly did not help. The costs of hiring more police and ambulance personnel still does not come close to the costs incurred of putting a marijuana offender in prison, court costs, and lost job hours because that person is in prison. The way I see it, there are no real good choices in regards to marijuana. So, the question remains what are the least evil choices in regards to the issue. Legalization means that at least the tax revenues can be used for funding schools, paying for more police and also funding hospitals for helping people not just with addictions but also for those who suffer from all kinds of illnesses and physical injuries. Legalized cannabis means that it can be taxed, regulated and somewhat limited like alcohol and tobacco. In short, legislators are trying to make good out of a bad situation.

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