Kathy Valente from the Illinois Family Institute has yet again continued the organization’s ignorance campaign on a pending Cook County resolution to legalize marijuana in the county.

In a Letter To The Editor that Valente submitted to all media outlets on February 1 entitled “Avoiding a Dangerous Pot Hole”, she and the Institute continues to prove how ignorant they truly are.

With absolutely no regard for solid facts or evidence from other states, lawmakers are set to legalize and tax marijuana.

Actually, Kathy, you are still ignorant regarding the facts:

  • Collective Evolution; September 2014: Uniform Crime Reporting data for the City of Denver revealed a 10.1 percent decline in overall crimes and a 5.2 percent decline in violent crimes in the first eight months of 2014. In the first four months of legalization, over $10 million in sales taxes were accrued, with the first $40 million being earmarked for public schools and infrastructure (both of which was funded through 2023). Legalization renewed efforts to study the medical efficacy of marijuana in the state, becoming a hub of marijuana research and thus accurate marijuana policy. In the first eight months of legalization, 10,000 jobs in the industry were created, which in turn was good for the state’s economy. This economic growth also resulted in property values rising 8.7 percent compared to the previous year. With the elimination of criminal penalties for marijuana-related offenses can save Colorado’s taxpayers between $12 million and $40 million within the first year by no longer arresting people for marijuana possession.
  • Washington Post; October 2016: A report revealing results from 2014 and 2015 regarding Colorado’s marijuana industry, more than 18,000 jobs were created and generated $2.4 billion in economic activity. $121 million in tax revenue was received by Colorado in 2015, with revenues to rise to roughly $150 million by 2020.
  • ThinkProgress; October 2016: Legal marijuana in Colorado has proven to be a stronger boost to the state’s economy than 90% of the state’s other industries, with each dollar spent in the industry generating between $2.13 and $2.40 in economic activity, with the Federal government spending having a much higher multiplier.
  • Lift News; November 2017: Many of the claims and concerns that the Illinois Family Institute have alluded to in the past — increased criminal activity, youth exposure and an expanded war on drugs — have all been busted myths. The concern of impaired driving is plausible, but inconclusive.
  • American Journal of Public Health; November 2017: A study published in the November 2017 issue of AJPH showed that there was a 6.5 percent decline in opioid deaths in 2014, a reversal from an increasing trend in the past fourteen years.
  • HuffPost; July 2017: A March 2017 presentation by the Washington State Office of Financial Management revealed that legalized pot raised up to $26 million per month in sales taxes. Let me repeat this — $26 MILLION PER MONTH. Revenue increases with out-of-state and border counties. There are over 250 independent retailers with hundreds of growers and processors. A lower priced, high quality product is ultimately cheaper than your highest-priced opioid prescription drug.

They are actually willing to put our children’s future at great risk for an insignificant amount of revenue.

Try again. Obviously, you didn’t read my bullet point under Lift News. While I’m not for the taxation of retail sales of marijuana, the proposed legislation in both the Illinois House and Illinois Senate could garner as much as $20 million per month, or $240 million per year in its first year of legalization. The problem is not the revenue; the problem is whether the Illinois General Assembly can keep their act together and not overspend the new revenue.

Recreational marijuana has affected every part of society in states that have legalized it. The increased in adolescent and teen use is staggering. In Colorado, it’s the #1 problem in schools. Medical research has found that youth who use regularly risk losing 8 IQ points or more.

Let’s see: First remark: DEBUNKED. Second remark: DEBUNKED — see Lift News again. Third remark: DEBUNKED — there is no data supporting such a claim either. Fourth remark: PLAUSIBLE — but that depends on how one’s mind has developed. Some young adults already have a fully-developed brain at 16, others at 17 or 18, so if it’s fully developed, then there is no real considerable effect. If it’s not fully developed, there may be a slight decline, but not as extreme as your propaganda suggests.

…employers are having difficulty finding employees who aren’t high. Traffic fatalities have doubled. Homeless populations have skyrocketed. Marijuana-related hospitalizations and calls to poison control centers have escalated through the roof.

I run an information technology business who has independently contracted employees who do show up for work high. Guess what? It doesn’t impact their work performance as your propaganda suggests. They’re five times more productive than someone who is stone cold, straight-edge sober. Never had a lost-time accident in seven years because someone smoked pot and came to work high. (Disclaimer: Heartland Internet Media Networks is also the parent company of this publication.)

If employers are REALLY having a problem finding employees, then their hiring standards are way too high.

Traffic fatalities HAVE NOT doubled, as in all states combined where pot is fully legal, fatalities have actually DECLINED every year by 10 percent or more. Check with each state’s Department of Transportation and the National Transportation Safety Board for that information.

Pot has nothing to do with people being homeless, so that argument there is completely invalid.

Again, your propaganda about hospitalizations and poison control center calls are false. The few hospitalizations (and I mean, less than 10 in 2017) that took place was because some laced a strain of marijuana with opioid drug fentanyl and no calls were made to the poison control center just for smoking marijuana that wasn’t laced with something else.

The Illinois Family Institute is pushing for Cook County voters to vote against the referendum to legalize marijuana in Cook County, and if it comes to a referendum statewide in November. It is the opinion of this editor that for the best interest of Cook County and Illinois voters that you vote to SUPPORT the referendum(s) as it results in tens of thousands of non-criminal marijuana offenders who were wrongly imprisoned just for smoking a plant going home to their families instead of being stuck behind a cage.

Jake Leonard is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. He is general manager of Heartland Internet Media Networks and an active contributor to four newspapers for Pana News Group. He also serves as chairman of Tri-Counties Libertarian Party and Capital Area Libertarian Party, deputy candidate recruitment director for the Libertarian Party of Illinois and as chairman/co-founder of the Libertarian Party Millennial Caucus.