Ford County GOP committeeman splits with Barickman on marijuana issue
Taking a stance that contradicts that of his own party, state Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) last month came out in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a Dec. 6 report in Cannabis Business Times.
"The laws that are supported most widely by the public are those laws that have broad-based bipartisan support,” Barickman, who is seeking re-election, said in the CBT article. “So, as Republicans, I think we need to sit at this negotiating table. I think we need to demonstrate our willingness to be open minded on this issue.”
As The Ford County Record reported Dec. 20, Barickman’s unpopular stance garnered a roomful of opposition at a meeting last month of the Ford County Republican Central Committee.
Much of the opposition centered around the belief that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder substances, the Record noted.
One opponent at the GOP meeting was Bill Roberts, representing Ford County’s Brenton precinct. During an interview with the East Central Reporter, he cited the gateway drug argument: “How many people would be using marijuana who aren’t now if the law were repealed?”
Stating emphatically that he was not in favor of legalizing marijuana, Roberts likened it to legalizing any crime and then taxing the participants.
For example, he cited Chicago’s high rate of homicides, which was reported by Time Magazine as 650 for 2016, with shootings at 2,785. (The Chicago Police Department supplied the statistics.)
“Let’s repeal the law against shooting people,” he mused during the interview with the East Central Reporter. “The fact that some people violate the law is not a reason to repeal the law, is it?”
In promising to work with Democrats on a legalization bill, Barickman said the move would be necessary to offset the state’s fiscal crisis.
Roberts speculated about whether legalizing marijuana would have the desired effect of simply raising more money.
“Do you seriously think these users of marijuana are going to buy it from a taxed store instead of raising it themselves?” he speculated. “There are people who brew their own beer and therefore don’t pay the state the liquor tax.”
The best remedy to this law, according to Roberts, is to find a candidate who toes the party line.
“I’d say let’s find somebody else in the primary that we can vote for,” he said. “I once made a donation to this guy, but I won’t any more.”