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Illinois lagging behind again

Wednesday, Apr 30, 2014

* Pot is really going mainstream in Colorado

The Colorado Symphony is giving new meaning to hitting a high note, announcing on Tuesday a bring-your-own marijuana concert series, the first of which features its chamber ensemble and South-of-the-border food and booze.

The U.S. states of Colorado and Washington became the first to legalize the possession and use of recreational cannabis in 2012, and the first retail pot shops opened in Colorado in January.

The orchestra’s “Classically Cannabis: The High Note Series” seeks to tap the blossoming market in a series of summer fundraising concerts, at a time when more than half of Colorado voters believe legalizing recreational marijuana has been good for the state, a recent poll showed.

The Denver Post newspaper reported the events are aimed at boosting attendance, including drawing younger concert-goers, at a time when the Colorado Symphony has struggled financially.

* Illinois is nowhere near legalization as of yet, but some folks are hoping to at least get a study going

The group [of four Chicago-area Democrats] held a press conference Monday at the Cook County building, calling for the state to decriminalize marijuana possession and — eventually — legalize recreational use of the leafy plant.

“The main difference between the War on Drugs and Prohibition is that, after 40 years, this country still hasn’t acknowledged that the War on Drugs is a failure,” Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said, drawing a parallel with the outlawing of booze in the early 20th Century. […]

The group has yet to drop a bill in Springfield to legalize the drug and, in reality, substantive change is likely a ways off, the group acknowledged. At this point they just want fellow Democrats in the General Assembly to green-light a task force to study the issue. The hope, they say, is that Illinois will eventually develop a more laissez-faire approach to pot, which for now is classified a “dangerous” Schedule I narcotic by the federal government.

* Two bills have been introduced to decriminalize weed, and another would lower penalties. A poll taken in late March found that 63 percent of Illinoisans support a $100 non-criminal fine for possessing an ounce or less.

* From an ACLU study

The national marijuana possession arrest rate in 2010 was 256 per 100,000 people. The jurisdictions with the highest overall marijuana possession arrest rates per 100,000 residents were:

    D.C. 846
    New York 535
    Nebraska 417
    Maryland 409
    Illinois 389

• Cook County, IL (includes Chicago) made the most marijuana possession arrests in 2010 with over 33,000, or 91 per day. [Emphasis added.]

Sheesh.

But I’m not really a fan of decriminalization for two big reasons. First, criminals would still be controlling the cultivation and distribution of the drug. Second, decriminalization means no tax revenues. If it’s a step toward legalization, then fine. But only like civil unions were a step toward gay marriage. Decrim is not the final answer here.

Just legalize it already and let’s have a concert.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


34 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:04 am:

    •– Cook County, IL (includes Chicago) made the most marijuana possession arrests in 2010 with over 33,000, or 91 per day. –

    Wow, that sure makes me feel safer out on the street!

    You laugh then you cry over the stupidity of it all.

    Imagine all the police hours on the street lost to processing marijuana arrests.


  2. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:05 am:

    Not just no, but hell no. I don’t care that 50% of the public in Colorado thinks its a good idea. I agree with the Colorado governor who said slow down to states rushing to legalize. Gov. Hickenlooper said this is having significant effects on the state and that others including Illinois should slow down and watch.

    They are selling THC-laden candy at conveniences stores, among other creative ways to get the whole state stoned. This is not a simple matter of our needing more tax revenue. I could not possibly disagree stronger with my many friends who want to legalize. Decriminalize? Sure. But slow the hell down on legalization.


  3. - Generation X - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    Utterly irresponsible and ridiculous to insist on tax increase after increase without looking at this job creating, revenue enhancing industry


  4. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:10 am:

    I support decriminalization if it keeps more people out of prisons for silly stuff like minor pot possession. but you make good points Rich. it’s heading in that direction, slooowwwly.


  5. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:11 am:

    There isn’t a whole lot of violence involved with pot. When you here about drug violence, how often does it involve pot vs heroin, meth or crack? To paraphrase Dr. House–”It’s never pot”.

    The administrative costs of marijuana possession arrests to a police force that is demonized for failing to tackle violent crime is completely irresponsible.


  6. - Bumused - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:13 am:

    Got me thinking of the movie What about Bob. Remember “Baby Steps”.


  7. - Skeptic - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:26 am:

    Maybe their concert series will include an orchestral version of “In A Gadda Da Vida”


  8. - PoolGuy - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:28 am:

    violence with pot is like one dude getting mad at another guy for eating all the cheetos. but there is violence at the dealer level over territory and control which decrim won’t affect.


  9. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    Is it 420 already? Where did the day go?


  10. - Grandson of Man - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    “Just legalize it already and let’s have a concert.”

    Yes, Rich, yes.

    I tried to post a comment before on this thread, but it failed. I hope I don’t triple post, but if I do, I’m really sorry.

    We’ve had a long time to study the negative effects of keeping marijuana illegal.

    It’s also a rights issue, to me. Why should otherwise law-abiding adults be forced into the shadows of criminality for using weed?

    We are missing out on tons of revenue and economic gains, plus we are misusing our legal system when it could be better-used to pursue more serious crimes.


  11. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:41 am:

    == Cook County, IL (includes Chicago) made the most marijuana possession arrests in 2010 ==

    It would be interesting to see the arrest numbers since Chicago decriminalized marijuana on June 27, 2012.


  12. - Belle - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    Legalize it and let the State reap the taxes. Who knows what will happen with gang finances but whatever it is, life will change dramatically for all of them.


  13. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    Must Il. Be last in everything. I’m tired of more studies and more talk: cannabis should be legal now. The Illinois legislature should quit stealing money from State retirees and draw in revenue from a marijuana tax on sales.


  14. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    …and one more thing: stop the sofmoric pot jokes. They are so passed and tired.


  15. - RonOglesby - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 11:00 am:

    91 a day… I would bet it is a charge used a ton on the south and west sides. Cops roust any group and its pretty common someone is holding.


  16. - Plutocrat03 - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 11:03 am:

    Does anyone actually get jail time for simple possession without intent so sell?

    I suspect a fine with or without some probation is the norm.

    All we need to do is to sit back and watch what happens in the recreationally legalized states. If nothing happens like the advocates claim, then craft some legislation and move forward. If there are problems, learn from them and go in the direction the solutions to those problems point.

    If decriminalization/legalization is in the future, allow for the ability to grow this weed for personal consumption, much like home brewing.


  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 11:24 am:

    being arrested is more harmful,than the use of the plant ,it is cruel and unusual punisment for a victimless nonviolent crime.


  18. - Hickory - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:02 pm:

    I suggest that we let the States of Washington and Colorado be the test pigs. The results will let me know how to vote.


  19. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:08 pm:

    ==It would be interesting to see the arrest numbers since Chicago decriminalized marijuana on June 27, 2012.==

    The ticketing was largely a bust, at least initially.

    http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/23331575-418/one-year-after-decriminalization-pot-tickets-a-bust.html#.U2EtVvldWSo

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/Bleader/archives/2013/11/01/mayoral-ally-thanks-police-for-ignoring-the-pot-decriminalization-law-he-sponsored


  20. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:13 pm:

    ==Does anyone actually get jail time for simple possession without intent so sell?==

    Yes.

    From the Chicago Reader

    Chicago police made tens of thousands of arrests in 2009 and 2010 for marijuana possession, including 47,400 in which that misdemeanor was the most serious charge. So how egregious are the racial discrepancies? […]

    In those years 4,255 people pleaded or were found guilty of low-level marijuana possession after being arrested in Chicago: 89 percent were black, 9 percent were Hispanic, and 2 percent were white.


  21. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:14 pm:

    ==Does anyone actually get jail time for simple possession without intent so sell?==

    Yes.

    http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/chicago-marijuana-arrest-statistics/Content?oid=4198958


  22. - Nonplussed - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    georgeatt: ==…and one more thing: stop the sofmoric pot jokes. They are so passed and tired.==

    Can we agree to stop the passe and tired sophmoric jokes when you learn to spell?


  23. - strawman - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Nonplussed:

    It’s “sophomoric,” and “passed,” since you seem to care about proper spelling.


  24. - Ghost - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    make it like the lottery. legailize it; make the State the oficial grower and seller; then auction off the rights to “manage” the growth and sales business to the highest bidder.

    use the money to cover the pension shortfall. pensions fixed with the taxes and marijuana; similar to our use of liquor and gameing taxes.


  25. - Wumpus - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    Decriminalize it or make it punishable by fine if they are too scared to do that.


  26. - Jeff Trigg - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:22 pm:

    Not in Michael Madigan’s political lifetime. Probably not in Lisa’s either. Quinn or Rauner won’t do it. If you really want to see this change you have to stop supporting parties and politicians that still believe in prohibition.


  27. - Left Leaner - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 1:34 pm:

    So over this debate. Just legalize it already.

    Then take the tax revenue and use it to combat the abuse a prescription drugs, including prosecution of pharmacists and big pharma companies that knowingly contribute to the problem.


  28. - Anon - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:28 pm:

    Legalizing pot would be less harmful to society than putting video slot machines in every gas station, restaurant and flower shop in the state, and it would likely raise more tax revenue.


  29. - Formerly Known As... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 2:45 pm:

    Precinct Captain - thanks for sharing those links. Very much appreciated.


  30. - A guy... - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 3:35 pm:

    If we weren’t managing government from one crisis to the next, a rational, intellectual discussion could be had on this subject. We’re a ways off.


  31. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    strawman : sorry…I should have known better than to use my tiny android phone. I don’t like the auto spell check either. Back on subject though: every bit of information points out that marijuana, is indeed, safer than alcohol and tobacco. That alone makes it a no-brainer to legalize for adult use. Marijuana prohibition is over, don’t let it die a slow death in Illinois.


  32. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 6:42 pm:

    ‘Yes.’

    Lots of stats about arrests, but no number regarding those sentenced to jail. Likely a small number. Prior history with the law likely a factor in jail time as well.


  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Apr 30, 14 @ 7:55 pm:

    school funding gone background check no job ,hey but no jail time right


  34. - Pensioner - Thursday, May 1, 14 @ 7:19 am:

    One of the few topics I agree (gasp) with libertarians. People have the right to take whatever substance they choose. None of any govts business. Monumental waste of time and money.


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