- AP Photos
- No, that’s not the mayor of Chicago, though when Rahm Emanuel talks about marijuana, it’s easy to confuse him with a certain President Nixon.
I wasn’t going to write today about Mayor Emanuel and his strange attitudes toward reefer.
No, I figured I said what I had to say on that subject the other day, and this time around I was going to take on something else.
Like the First Tuesdays show Mick and I have at the Hideout on October 7.
We’ve got an all-star panel of political reporters—Natasha Korecki and Dan Mihalopoulos of the Sun-Times and Charles Thomas of ABC-7—ready to break down the Quinn/Rauner race, among other things.
It doesn’t get any better than that!
But then the mayor stepped to the microphone on Wednesday to talk about “recreational pot smoking”—and, well, sugar pie, honey bunch, I can’t help myself. In his remarks, the mayor sternly declared: “I don’t think you should balance the budget by promoting recreational smoking of pot.”
Geez, Rahm—who are you, Richard Nixon?
Breaking news, Mr. Mayor—you already promote recreational pot smoking. It’s called Lollapalooza, which is pretty much an open-air weed fest with some music thrown in.
It’s pretty obvious the police have a hands-off policy on pot at the festival—and all the other rock festivals in town—for the obvious reason that the city wants everyone to have a good time without fear of getting hauled to jail for the high crime of smoking weed.
As the mayor noted in an August 4 press release celebrating Lolla:
“Lollapalooza infused more than $139 million into the local economy. . . . Over the past several years, proceeds from the festival have allowed the Park District to fund citywide park improvements and dozens of educational and cultural programs.”
On Wednesday, Emanuel was reacting to a suggestion by Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis—a potential challenger—that we should legalize marijuana and tax its sales to help raise money to pay our bills. As Colorado has done.
Lewis exaggerated the amount of money Colorado has collected through its tax on marijuana sales, but her basic point makes sense.
People are already smoking pot. They’re not about to stop any time soon. And we’re not just talking about south and west siders, but lawyers and doctors, even hedge fund guys—some of whom no doubt generously contribute to the mayor’s campaign.
We should end this silly war against cannabis so we can start making money from taxing it as opposed to wasting money rounding people up for it.
I can’t really believe the mayor has any sort of significant objection to weed smoking. He is, after all, a Baby Boomer from Wilmette—a breed I’m familiar with from having grown up in Evanston.
As I recall, the kids from New Trier were always coming down to Evanston when they wanted to get wasted. For all I know, Rahm was that skinny little kid who was always bogarting the joint.
My guess is that the mayor’s catering to the mythical “Silent Majority”—those middle-American voters he thinks are living on the northwest or southwest side. Or maybe he feels compelled to be against legalization because Lewis is for it.
Either way, he reminds me of Barack Obama’s “evolution” on same-sex marriage. If you recall, Mr. Obama was for it back in the ’90s, when he was launching his career in liberal Hyde Park.
Then he was against it in the early 2000s, when he was running statewide for senator.
And then he was for it again in 2012—after the polls showed a majority favored it, at least in the all-important swing states.
I’m not saying there’s an inalienable right to smoking marijuana that’s akin to marrying the person you love, though the Beastie Boys might argue that point.
But we’re so broke we can’t afford to hire enough school janitors. It’s time we start looking for new sources of revenue.
Just one more thing for everyone to talk about at the Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia Ave, on October 7. The show starts at 6:30 pm.