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Two decrim bills advance

Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014

* A couple of good ideas were advanced out of committee yesterday. But, considering the fact that the medical marijuana law hasn’t even been fully implemented, I don’t expect much movement the rest of the year

“The war on drugs has not worked,” said Rep. Christian Mitchell, D-Chicago, one of the bill’s sponsors. “Our jails are overcrowded. We need to get smarter on crime, not tougher. Drug addiction is a public health problem, not a public safety problem.”

Under Mitchell’s House Bill 4299, which passed 6-0 in committee, instead of getting a misdemeanor for possessing up to 30 grams — about an ounce — of marijuana, violators would get a fine of no more than $100 with a “petty offense” on their record. […]

Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, passed another pot-ticketing bill 5-2 in committee that would decriminalize marijuana.

Under her legislation, House Bill 5708, possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana would be a “regulatory offense” that would still include a fine of $100 but not exist on someone’s record.

* Anita Bedell is a nice person and she means well, but she always goes so over the top on stuff that she loses credibility

But Anita Bedell, with Church Action on Alcohol and Addiction Problems, opposed Cassidy’s and Mitchell’s bills. She said she’s worried about the message that lowering marijuana penalties sends to young people. […]

Bedell said the Legislature is “rushing” down the road of legalizing marijuana completely, an outcome that she said would be “disastrous” to the state.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - A guy... - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    Those are good ideas. Hope it doesn’t doom them. Rest assured Anita, societal norms will maintain your views where people agree with you. Jamming the prisons with neophyte pot smokers only offers them “finishing school” to become real life long criminals. Don’t make some kid smoking a joint have to develop survival skills rather than pursue a real education. Hope these measures pass by whatever means necessary.

  2. - MrJM - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:09 am:

    “The war on drugs has not worked.”

    Serious question: Are there still people willing to argue about the truth of this statement?

    – MrJM

  3. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    I have seen too many pot smokers graduate to hard drugs. One has paid a visit to Rosekrance for the twenty-eight day residential treatment program without much benefit. His parents have a different view of relaxing drug laws. They are angry that the police are not cracking down on high school drug dealers.

    Not having been arrested for petty crimes would not have measurably changed this young adult’s life. He is a burnout and it began with pot use.

  4. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:14 am:

    –“The war on drugs has not worked.”–

    Depends who you are. Lot of money has been spent, so a lot of money has been made.

  5. - OneMan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:14 am:


    I suspect the argument is in part that a bad, ineffective damn is more protection against the flood than nothing.

    I don’t have a problem with legalization, I do however want to make it painful for someone to sell to kids. That’s the father of teenagers talking, I freely admit it.

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:18 am:

    ===I do however want to make it painful for someone to sell to kids===

    As do I. But pot dealers don’t care about things like checking ID’s. A drug store would.

  7. - PMcP - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:21 am:

    For what it’s worth, drug use is fairly consistent, as a percentage, across class and racial lines. Saying it affects one group over another, or be ‘disastrous,’ is misleading. If people at the upper class take drugs and succeed by all accounts (keep in mind the percentage of drug use across groups is fairly consistent) then drug use isn’t the factor that ruined someone’s life. It may assist a downward spiral but stopping their drug use doesn’t fix the underlying problem. Now you’ve got an agitated person with no escape.

    In general, liberal drug policies work on a better scale than harsh punishment. Decriminalizing drug use and offering free support services (which would be cost effective by reducing the jail population ) would benefit society much more than any supposed ‘disastrous’ effects of decriminalization, everywhere this has been tried has succeeded. Especially in the Netherlands where they actually provide free heroin to addicts as long as it’s under supervision of medical staff; use has actually fallen there and it’s freely available… Riddle me that Anita.

  8. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    the knee jerk reaction what about the children?what about the parents?your children were stupid and lazy before marijuana,thanks to your poor parenting skills.

  9. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    Sorry, Anonymous,

    The individual that I referred to went from being a high school honor student to a total waste of space. He was not stupid or lazy until he began self-medicating.

  10. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    Judging by Colorado’s financial windfall, I’m surprised Illinois isn’t rushing to legalize and tax it.

  11. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    How would Illinois ever be able to fully legalize marijuana when it is still a controlled substance under Federal law?

  12. - D.P.Gumby - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:46 am:

    Having closely watched Colorado, it is clear that legalization can be done. But Colorado state government is much for efficient and better managed. Looking at how Illinois Gambling Board misfunctions (which is a good analogy), I’m not sure Illinois could manage.

  13. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:48 am:

    I know this puts me at odds with my lib friends, but Anita and Upon Further Review are right. I too know people who went from effective and capable to waste of space because of pot. This is a potentially disastrous development for our society.

    That said, I support medical and am not strongly opposed to decriminalizing small quantities.

  14. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Texas is beating the pants off of us in this area. Rick Perry has been very open minded about decriminalization and Texas has been ahead of us on this issue as well.

  15. - crazybleedingheart - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:54 am:

    Hey, I know a lot of people who went from effective and capable to violent abusive jerks because of alcohol. Which tells me exactly diddly about why drinking should be handled via criminal justice.

  16. - fed up - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Legalize it, Tax it, and treat it’s abuse the same as alcohol. Don’t use it myself, hope my children never do, but from first hand experiance it should not be criminal.

  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    if you can`t keep reefer out of prison,how are you going to keep it out of illinois it`s a seed you can`t make a law that stops germination,just like we couldn`t make a law to stop fermentation.

  18. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    This is such a no-brainer: marijuana must be legalized, if only to give Americans a safer choice of re.creational drugs. Alcoholl and tobacco by far are more dangerous.

  19. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:04 am:

    As a father I would rather my kids use pot. The gateway issue is a fabricated lie put forth by vested interest groups.

  20. - Belle - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:07 am:

    While my pot smoking days are far behind me, I feel that going to a dealer needs to end for a few reasons:
    -Selling pot would be a great source of revenue for the state;
    -It would eliminate arresting people for it, prosecuting them, and keeping them in jail;
    -It would put the gangs in an unusual position since drugs are their primary source of income;and
    -If you’re not going to the dealer for your pot, you’re far less likely to move up the ladder to more dangerous drugs. Why bother with more dangerous drugs if: it is easy to get at the store, no shortages, and the dealer is not in the picture.

  21. - Downstater - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    Legalize marijuana, now. Put it on the par with alcohol, with regards to illegal possession and usage.

  22. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:11 am:

    –I know this puts me at odds with my lib friends, but Anita and Upon Further Review are right. I too know people who went from effective and capable to waste of space because of pot. This is a potentially disastrous development for our society.–

    I don’t know what’s to become of that young Willie Nelson.

    You know some people who can’t handle their weed — so what? What does that have to do with decriminalization?

    If you’re worried about society and drug abuse, get a hatched and start chopping up the bars like Carrie Nation. That Prohibition was a great success.

  23. - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:26 am:

    Prohibition succeeded in making Chicago internationally famous!

  24. - North Shore Joe - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    30 GRAMS IS WAY TOO MUCH, which is a recurring flaw in any type of this legislation. The spirit of the legislation is great, but I always ‘lol’ at the amount they allow someone to possess.

    Anyone carrying over an ounce is probably a dealer, not casual pothead.

  25. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:40 am:

    === Hey, I know a lot of people who went from effective and capable to violent abusive jerks because of alcohol. Which tells me exactly diddly about why drinking should be handled via criminal justice. ===

    You beat me to it. Anyone advocating for criminalizing marijuana must also be an advocate for criminalizing alcohol — it is overwhelmingly hypocritical to support the former but not the latter.

  26. - Just Observing - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:42 am:

    @Upon Further Review — You are certainly well within your right to oppose decriminalization of marijuana — but just know that you are increasingly in the minority and you will be on the wrong side of history. While it may take five, ten, 15 years, marijuana will be legal in Illinois.

  27. - Walker - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:47 am:

    ===is a nice person and means well, but she always goes so over the top on stuff that she loses credibility===


    Describes about half of the advocates of any issue a legislator runs into — including many of the pro-legalization folks.

  28. - Guzzlepot - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:49 am:

    @Upon Further Review

    I understand your argument against legalization. The problem is the same arguments were used for Prohibition, and that was arguably more sucessful than the war against marijuana. I feel sorry for your friend’s kid, but there will always be someone who abuses whatever. That is an argument for greater regulation,it is not a good argent for an absolute prohibitio .

  29. - danlinn - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    I know i am one of the over the top prolegalization people, but we are still talking about a plant. A plant.

  30. - Roadiepig - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    - Upon Further Review - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    Sorry to read about your personal friend’s story, but you can find many other stories about high schoolers who started drinking alcohol in high school and fell from the honor roll. You used the term “self medicating”, which shows you understand why your friend ended up in their downward spiral. If not pot, alcohol or some other drug would have likely filled their void. That’s why it needs to be treats like alcohol- children under age are not mature enough to make decisions on whether consuming either will cause their growing brains harm. Adults should have the right to damage their own bodies, whether by pot or alcohol, regardless if others like it or not, as long as they harm only themselves. And if you are one of those who thinks the effects of marijuana on the body are the same or worse than alcohol ? I guess I would be wasting my time trying to show you otherwise …

  31. - John A Logan - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:00 pm:

    The Brave New World Marches on. Lets just legalize everything. What could be the harm?

  32. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:10 pm:

    ACLU did a recent study on the costs of cannabis prohibition. For Illinois it costs us $221,431,776 a year to enforce marijuana prohibition laws. Of course if you tax it and regulate it, then new revenues will also be coming into the state. Hemp could be boon to our economy in this state as well - paper, boxes, car door panels, car seats, clothes, and thousands of other products. We already import hemp from Canada to make products like car door panels. We’d easily see a $300 million/year boost to our budget and a bigger boost to our economy.

    Because a few people might not be able to handle their cannabis, (much fewer than alcohol) it does not follow that we should continue to lock everyone who uses cannabis in cages. Those few people need medical help, NOT jail cells, a permanent record, broken families, and more life obstacles. Prohibition makes the problems worse, not better, as the past 40 years more than proves.

    If you truly want to reduce cannabis use amongst the young, we should follow some of what we’ve done with tobacco. 50% used to smoke, but now we are under 20% without a tobacco prohibition.

    Right now more teenagers have used cannabis in the US than the percentage in the Netherlands where it is decriminalized. The sky is falling argument that more people will have problems with cannabis if it is legal has absolutely no basis in the real world. Same with the drugged driving argument. What’s the roadside test for oxycodone or vicodin etc.? Yet Anita Bedell has never called to prohibit those much more dangerous legal substances, which are being used by teenagers now more than cannabis.

    Prohibition is counterproductive and only makes the problems worse.

  33. - the unknown poster - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:11 pm:

    I think the Feds should seriously consider decriminalizing it which would um ah.. what were we talking about?

  34. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:16 pm:

    Let’s just call criminalization advocates what they are: racists. Marijuana use is virtually equal between different racial and ethnic groups, yet criminal penalties are disproportionately levied against only one or two groups of citizens. There is no excuse for not knowing these facts after decades of their existence and decades of oppressive, racist, unequal law enforcement of marijuana laws. Where are criminalization advocates with any police reform plan to go after all drug users, not just some who are black and brown? Those plans aren’t there because the racist status quo is what’s good for criminalization advocates, indicting and damning them as the racists they are.

  35. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:27 pm:

    This is a great Illinois based blog that follows the drug war, for anyone truly interested in learning. Pete Guither is an excellent speaker for any group that wants to hear more on this topic.

    “How would Illinois ever be able to fully legalize marijuana when it is still a controlled substance under Federal law?”

    The better question is, how will the feds ever be able to fully enforce their federal law if Illinois joins Colorado and Washington in full legalization?

    Would you support them sending in the troops to enforce federal laws in the states? Lock up legislators and government employees involved with legalization? Confiscate state money derived from cannabis? Worrying about the feds seems pretty silly to me. There are numerous federal laws that states already ignore, immigration being a prime example.

  36. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 12:54 pm:

    does everyone think the wholesale system or distibution networks we have in place now for the sale of marijuana needs to be changed?do you think a sale is going on right now?is this the way illinois does business?

  37. - Toure's Latte - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:15 pm:

    I don’t know if there is a difference between legalization and decriminalization, but if either takes the illicit profit motive out of selling pot, I am all for it. Legalize it, Regulate it, Tax it just like cigs.

    FWIW either way I will be sticking to a plethora of great beers that have sprung up the last few years.

  38. - horse w/ no name - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:16 pm:

    Because you knew someone who had addiction issues does not mean that individuals struggles should dictate policy to millions of other people. I knew a guy who got hooked on computer duster. It damn near melted his brain. I don’t see a movement to get computer duster off the shelves

  39. - Anon - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    == He is a burnout and it began with pot use. ==

    He became a burnout despite the law criminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. Should we adopt long mandatory prison sentences to protect people from themselves??

    There is no question than marijuana is abused by some users, just as is true with alcohol, yet we don’t ban alcohol.

  40. - Han Sanity - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:47 pm:

    Why must claims about “hard” drug use begin with cannabis and not tobacco or booze or any other of a number of prohibited acts?

    DEA didn’t mind approving increases in the manufacture of Oxycontin and Zohydro.

    By the way, Colorado collected $2.9 million in taxes on recreational and medical cannabis in January — without the use of a banking system — plus another $600,000 in fees.

    Meanwhile, Rahm collects $1.5 million on the $3.7 million in speeding camera tickets issued, hoping to reach $70 million.

    Freshman applications to the University of Colorado are up 33%, up 43% percent for out-of-state students; 65% for international students.

    Illinois could be a midwest leader in cannabis legalization instead of playing catch up years later.

  41. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    The war on drugs is over. The drugs won.

  42. - CommoNooB - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:53 pm:

    Upon Further Review- would happen to know if the kid in which you are referring to experimented with alcohol before cannabis? I hold the belief that alcohol is the true gateway drug, seeing that most of my childhood friends experimented with that before cannabis.

    And, Northside Joe, 30 grams is a lot but I wouldnt categorize a 30 gram drug dealer as someone who is violently terrorizing the neighborhood. There are many drug dealers that deal that amount that wouldnt be considered violent. Its the violent drug dealers we need to be worried about and not the nonviolent dealer who is just satisfying other peoples urge to smoke a joint at the end of their work day.

  43. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 1:59 pm:

    thc does not kill brain cells,beer does,drink up.

  44. - the unknown poster - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    The official CU line is that there is no correlation.

  45. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 2:11 pm:

    when my god comes back to earth, will he be arrested for poppys,mushrooms&marijuana?there could be an out of this world promotion for all involved.

  46. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 3:52 pm:

    what came first the seed or the plant?

  47. - danlinn - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    Add another decrim bill on 2nd reading HB4091. Apparently the sponsors are all gonna sit down and “hash the details out” to get behind one bill

  48. - Gare - Wednesday, Mar 26, 14 @ 9:33 pm:

    Anita’s concerns over decriminalizing marijuana will send the wrong message to kids is misguided. She feels this will tell kids marijuana is ok. Hogwash. Kids will smoke weed if they want to anyways and history has proved that. Legalizing pot can be controlled and regulated by the state which is safer than black market pot that could be laced with herbicides or pesticides or God knows what.

  49. - Goonhammer - Thursday, Mar 27, 14 @ 5:51 am:

    Decriminalizing sends the wrong message, we know this. Just fully legalize it, all this “it’s not a crime but it’s finable” crap is ridiculous. Secondly, if it’s decriminalized and all I will recieve is a petty $100 fine then then the labor laws should be changed.

    I.E. companies no longer able to test for usage of marijuana for hiring purposes? I don’t see companies digging for my ordinance violations. Simple…petty…fines….

  50. - Blair - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 9:59 am:

    “30 GRAMS IS WAY TOO MUCH, which is a recurring flaw in any type of this legislation. The spirit of the legislation is great, but I always ‘lol’ at the amount they allow someone to possess. Anyone carrying over an ounce is probably a dealer, not casual pothead.”

    @ North Shore Joe: Actually, an ounce is the preferred quantity that a lot of affluent adults choose to purchase for personal use. A 1/4 or 1/8 oz. is a small quantity, for those with less disposable income. At a half-pound or better, you’re looking at dealer quantities. Sorry but I have to ‘LOL’ at your post…

  51. - georgeatt - Friday, Mar 28, 14 @ 11:30 am:

    Uh…excuse me but 30 grams is a small amout. About an ounce…

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