If residents thought the effort to legalize weed in the state of Illinois was an entirely grass-roots organized movement, then it might come as something of a buzzkill to learn that powerful ice cream industry lobbying actually spearheaded the push.
Secret internal documents and private communications among industry insiders shows a highly orchestrated effort by Big Ice Cream to bring legal pot to the people of Illinois.
“Who stood to benefit? Who had the power? These are the questions we asked ourselves as we began looking into this matter,” says Alex Downer of the ineffectual government watchdog group Responsibility and Integrity in Government, or RIG for short. “You must remember, the cannabis industry is still relatively new and as yet has no politically connected corporate structure powerful enough to influence Illinois politics. If you want to be a political player in Illinois in general, and Chicago in particular, then you had better be sitting on top of a mountain of cash.”
The Chicagoland Ice Cream Manufacturers and Retailers Association seemed to be just such an organization. “These guys figured out years ago that if they could bring legal pot to Illinois, the industry stood to reap the benefits of a 50 to 70 percent increase in ice cream sales,” added Downer. “The leaked documents prove a conspiracy was afoot. In fact, the CICMRA even shook down their dairy suppliers in Wisconsin to help fund the lobbying effort.”
‘Lobbying’ is a term Downer uses loosely as it appears many Illinois legislators were rewarded handsomely for their vote. “It should have been evident who was in the pocket of Big Ice Cream interests. At the time the legislation was under consideration, there was an ice cream van circling the capitol building everyday handing out treats and playing that infernal nursery rhyme: ‘The more we work together, together, together. The more we work together, the happier we’ll be. Cause your friends are my friends and my friends are your friends….’ I mean, come on!
“And that wasn’t the half of it. We obtained one email where a very powerful government official, capable of delivering a lot of votes, detailed plans for his eight year old’s birthday party. He wanted a dump truck load each of chocolate, vanilla, and mint chip ice cream dumped on his lawn for the kids to play on. Obviously, they called on the State Highway Department to provide the trucks. He had his pool filled with soft serve, and witnesses say kids were running around squirting each other with super soakers filled with chocolate syrup and ready whip topping. The decadence is mind-blowing, man!”
However, don’t expect anyone in state government to be held accountable for a potential conflict of interest. “RIG considered filing an ethics complaint until we were visited by a couple of goons going by the names Mr. Peppermint and Mr. Butter Brickle,” Downer explained. “They encouraged us to drop the matter so we complied. I mean, what can you do? This is Chicago and this is Big Ice Cream. They don’t play.”