Judge questions how marijuana shops came to be essential

From the Chicago Sun Times, the transcript of a southern Illinois judge’s ruling against some of the governor’s dictates:

Selling pot is essential but selling goods and services at a family- owned business is not. Pot wasn’t even legal and pot dispensaries didn’t even exist in this state until five months ago and, in that five months, they have become essential but a family-owned business in existence for five generations is not.

Doctors and experts say different things weekly. The defendant cites models in his opposition. The only thing experts will agree on is that all models are wrong and some are useful. The Centers for Disease Control now says the virus is not easily spread on surfaces.

The Science-denying judge is like a black-robed version of Adley!

He highlights some apparent logical contradictions:

A family of six can pile in their car and drive to Carlyle Lake without contracting COVID but, if they all get in the same boat, they will. We are told that kids rarely contract the virus and sunlight kills it, but summer youth programs, sports programs are cancelled. Four people can drive to the golf course and not get COVID but, if they play in a foursome, they will.

Sadly, he does not attempt to answer the stay-at-home mom’s question: “If masks work, why aren’t we back at work? If masks don’t work, why are we being asked to wear them?”

He does throw in some philosophy:

The defendant in this case orders you to stay home and pronounces that, if you leave the state, you are putting people in danger, but his family members traveled to Florida and Wisconsin because he deems such travel essential. … When laws do not apply to those who make them, people are not being governed, they are being ruled.

A good thought to ponder as Americans make their way to their neighborhood marijuana stores….

I’m still waiting to hear what the standard is for terminating young healthy Americans’ First Amendment right of assembly. If one “expert” predicts that 10 million people will die unless young healthy people are imprisoned, that’s sufficient for a governor to imprison them? How about 10 experts predicting 1 million deaths? What about 100 experts predicting 200,000 deaths and the potential for a shutdown to defer 50,000 of those deaths by a year? Are there any thresholds for how many experts one needs or what death rate (can’t use absolute number due to rapid population growth) justifies the suspension of what had been Constitutional rights?

(And what if there are experts on the other side? Is the former chief scientist of the European CDC outweighed by one American academic forecasting unprecedented doom and demanding shutdown? How about all 15 epidemiologists on the Swedish government’s team? Against those 15, how many Americans does it take for a governor to say “the science is settled so I will terminate the First Amendment”? How about Sunetra Gupta and her team at Oxford? Is a statement by Dr. Fauci worth 20X a statement by Professor Gupta?)

22 thoughts on “Judge questions how marijuana shops came to be essential

  1. You have to wonder why there haven’t been more cases involving plaintiffs challenging lots of the restrictions governments have imposed. Lots of the restrictions either don’t seem to have a rational basis, the usual standard for a court to defer to a legislature, or seem obviously to violate constitutional rights, for example the First Amendment.

    • There seems to be at least one case that actually involves civil liberties on the ACLY list:

      “On April 9, we filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit challenging Baltimore’s use of high tech aerial surveillance to monitor its citizens without a warrant or probable cause. Two years ago, we convinced the Supreme Court that the government had to obtain a warrant to use cell phone location data to track suspects. We are arguing that they can’t avoid the warrant requirement by using high-tech aerial surveillance to do the same thing. ”

      But I suspect the ACLU could not have cared if the city under surveillance was Boise, ID.

    • Viking: That case began several years ago, it’s pre-COVID. Persistent Surveillance Systems, Ross McNutt (!) and his cyber Cessna.

      https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-baltimore-secret-surveillance/

      “McNutt is an Air Force Academy graduate, physicist, and MIT-trained astronautical engineer who in 2004 founded the Air Force’s Center for Rapid Product Development.”

      His work goes all the way back to the Iraq war scanning for roadside bombs and IEDs, etc., and my conjecture is that’s one of the reasons the ACLU was so interested, for a whole suite of different reasons. You have to read the article to better understand why the PACLU is involved.

      Right now, as far as I know, they’re interested in helping anyone with surveillance questions related to COVID.

    • I’m sure Persistent Surveillance Systems has overflown the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health many, many times, and Mike Bloomberg isn’t thrilled about being watched unless he’s the one controlling the optics.

  2. > The only thing experts will agree on is that all models are wrong and some are useful.

    He’s not denying science at all. The New England Journal of Medicine says almost exactly the same thing!

    “Wrong but Useful — What Covid-19 Epidemiologic Models Can and Cannot Tell Us”

    https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2016822

    Adley is right too! Baking cakes CAN be considered Math, Science or Art. It’s all over the web, for Pete’s sake!

    https://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1051709/stem-lessons-students-can-learn-from-baking/

    • @Alex – thanks for that NEJM article, I enjoyed it. You know it’s fascinating to compare epidemiologic models with another set of models/forecasts that people complain about all the time – WEATHER (https://weather.us/model-charts). The weather scientists don’t have to wait 80 years between storms to refine their models and forecasts. I liked this:

      “Why are there so many models and how are they different?
      Many different national weather centers have supercomputers that run weather models. Each of these is slightly different, using different equations to solve for various physical processes that shape our weather patterns. Many of them also have slightly different resolutions, and use slightly different combinations of initial data sources.

      These slight differences multiply out through time because the atmosphere is a chaotic system. This also means any errors that the models make in the near term become exponentially larger with time. This is why the forecast for a week from now is far less accurate than the forecast for tomorrow.
      Weather modelling centers attempt to control for the influence of chaos by running ensemble systems that each use slightly different initial conditions. Each ensemble “member” then produces a forecast as if its set of initial conditions were correct. This provides some way of quantifying how likely a given forecast outcome is, helping to show forecast uncertainty.”

      If you just take out the part about supercomputers, and replace ‘weather modeling’ with ‘epidemiologic models’ it almost still makes sense!

  3. Everyone knows by now how marijuana shops came to be deemed as essential after only opening 5 months prior: it’s the next big American industry and tax revenue source. Despite its recent ups and downs, politicians from John Boehner to local Selectmen wouldn’t want to do anything during a pandemic to uproot the weed before it can really begin to flower.

    https://www.ksdk.com/article/money/business/marijuana-generates-10m-in-taxes-in-first-month-in-illinois/63-97a73c10-afb8-4de3-98a1-4a6642ea60d1.

    Illinois just passed a budget that also clears away some of the last remaining hurdles to finally build a casino in Chicago:

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-illinois-legislature-special-session-roundup-20200523-twl7cgkeknefpp2bf44g2aof4e-story.html

    Read the rest, it’ll blow your mind, especially:

    “The proposal would give Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker sweeping authority to move agency operating funds around and to put a hold on some spending as a contingency.”

    • @Alex, wow it looks like Pritzker will have the same power that Donald J Trump has created.

  4. Masks don’t “work” in the straw man sense of lowering the risk to zero. They just lower the risk, a bit. Similarly, six feet is not magical and doesn’t lower the risk to zero, but it’s a reasonable practical compromise. Same with 15 minutes. Outdoors vs. Indoors. And all the other rules of thumb.

    Combine three twenty percent effective practices to lower aerosol transmission and you’ve lowered the risk by half (1.0 – (0.8 ** 3)) because each practice reduces the input into the next. For an epidemic that lives in the land of exponential growth rarer than linear, small measures can help a lot.

    • They still do not work simply because all they do is lower transmissibility, i.e. probability of encountering sufficient viral load ar any given time. (They also reduce infection raye R).

      SARS-2 has very high R0 and is infectious before symptoms appear, so dragging R below 1 is unrealistic unless every house is turned into a BSL-rated lab. So, pretty much everybody suceptible will still get infected, only it will take more time. (This is referred to as “flattening the curve”.)

      Masks do have non-negligible negative health effects, because they reduce blood oxygenation and increase CO2 in blood. These effects do depress immune systems, making more people susceptible.

    • @averros I think the point about masks is to lower transmissibility, so if used properly they work. Nothing reduces the transmissibility to zero. Several countries in Europe have managed to drag R0 below 1. In Norway, with little lockdown, it has been below 0.7 for about 8 weeks. Australia also has R0 below 1, and so many other Asian countries.

  5. “If masks work, why aren’t we back at work? If masks don’t work, why are we being asked to wear them?”

    I could see non-medical masks helping to reduce transmission rates (by reducing the generation of airborne droplets) but not driving them to zero, in the same way that seatbelts reduce traffic fatalities without eliminating them. Therefore masks would not be a complete solution in the face of high infection rates but could a part of an attempt at allowing some non-essential-but-nice-to-have excursions during a pandemic. This would solve the “paradox of the masks” above.

    • Instead of masks howabouts we all breathe through our nose. And no talking, talking releases the death droplets. No talking would be an improvement with the masks on everyone sounds like the teacher from Peanuts.

  6. > I’m still waiting to hear what the standard is for terminating young healthy Americans’ First Amendment right of assembly.

    It doesn’t exist as an absolute. Clear and Present Danger. “Authorities may also prevent or stop gatherings that clearly pose other immediate threats to public safety.” COVID-19 is a Clear and Present Danger.

    > If one “expert” predicts that 10 million people will die unless young healthy people are imprisoned, that’s sufficient for a governor to imprison them?

    Yes.

    >How about 10 experts predicting 1 million deaths?

    Even more so.

    > What about 100 experts predicting 200,000 deaths and the potential for a shutdown to defer 50,000 of those deaths by a year?

    As long as their study was vetted by Columbia and U.C. Berkeley.

    > Are there any thresholds for how many experts one needs or what death rate (can’t use absolute number due to rapid population growth) justifies the suspension of what had been Constitutional rights?

    The thresholds are whatever we say they are. This is public health.

  7. > Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

    You may peaceably assemble to petition the government for a redress of grievances online, using Zoom and a Change.org petition, while you are quarantined at home, wearing your mask. If you step outside during a pandemic, you are endangering the lives of others, and you will be punished. We are using undercover police officers to watch you. Soon we will be implementing our electronic monitoring surveillance SOLUTION to quarantine. You have no right to endanger the health of others. The government can break down your door, drag you to a doctor and plunge a needle into your arm. This is non-negotiable. Do not ask the ACLU for help.
    They are interested in getting prisoners sprung and fighting for the rights of illegal aliens.

  8. When I was a younger man, I had housemates that I believed bought weed. The way that it appeared to work was that this sketchy dude would show up at the house, hang out for a while (maybe play some video games or watch some TV), and then usually disappear to a room to do business and probably smoke some weed. Because of the criminality, a certain social aspect was a requirement. Then said sketchy dude would leave, presumably to go on to repeat the process at many other homes. I can’t imagine a worse idea epidemiologically, I mean this guy literally goes from house to house hanging out in closed spaces. If you don’t want every weed person in the world to get Covid, please keep the dispensaries open.

  9. Human life is priceless! If just one life can be spared we should shut down the economy for good!

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