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Not nearly enough

Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

* Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

Also, she said, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana should be treated as a petty offense rather than a misdemeanor, but penalties for distribution of more than 2,500 grams, or 5.5 pounds of marijuana, should be raised to deter trafficking.

I guess I should be pleased that a major county prosecutor is saying this stuff, but it’s just so 1990s.

* Does it ever occur to these “decriminalization” proponents (and I used to be one myself) that by approaching the issue this way they are in fact continuing to enrich and empower the outlaws who grow and distribute the stuff?

The outlaws will take their risks like they always have, regardless of the new penalties the state’s attorney wants to impose. She can convict all the distributors, dealers and growers she wants every year and more will eagerly emerge from the woodwork, as history has clearly shown.

Decriminalization is the wrong way to go, unless some people feel they need it as a short term step toward legalization. As a long-term solution, it’s merely continuing the disaster that our “War on Drugs” has become.

* Besides, the police have always found ways around decriminalization laws in the past. NYC cops, for instance, simply order people to empty their pockets. Marijuana is decriminalized as long as it’s not in public view. When the person empties his pockets, the weed is now in public view. Busted.

And Chicago’s marijuana ticket ordinance has not worked as hoped.

So, pardon me if I strongly suspect that yet another decrim law won’t change current realities. The same folks who are getting busted now will continue to be busted. We’re ruining countless numbers of lives with this insanity.

* We need to take the outlaws out of the marijuana business by taking the marijuana business out of the black market economy. Tax it, regulate it and put some people to work.

Not to mention that the state could really use the cash.


- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - FED UP - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:34 pm:

    LEGALIZE IT, tax it and lets move on. I am not a fan or user of weed but it is stupid to keep fighting a battle against weed that can not be won.

  2. - OneMan - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:39 pm:

    drugs are bad…

  3. - Don't Hog the Roach - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:47 pm:


    Don’t you make enough from subscriptions and advertising? Do you really want a new product line to peddle?

  4. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:53 pm:


    You and I will always be on opposite sides of this debate. You completely ignore the question of the impact on kids of complete legalization. It’s an open question at best how full legalization will impact generations of young people in terms of addiction, gateway drugs,etc. I’ve seen the effects personally and they aren’t pretty.

    Personally, I would recommend we take the advice of Colorado governor Hickenlooper who cautioned against other states rushing in immediately. And based in the latest data I’ve seen out of Colorado, the revenues are far less than they expected because of canibalization of the market with medical weed. In short, what’s the rush?

  5. - John A Logan - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    On a side note. One heck of a good blog today. Talk about churning out the content!

  6. - Jimmy - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:56 pm:

    This is a great idea - and Illinois desperately needs the cash! Add in 5-6 downtown casinos and we will significantly cut into Las Vegas’ convention business. Given the choice between tax increases or marijuana legalization and gambling expansion to fund the pension debt, it’s a no-brainer to take the marijuana and gaming path.

  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    ===You completely ignore the question of the impact on kids of complete legalization.===

    That’s insane.

    1) How many outlaw drug dealers check IDs before selling to kids?

    2) How many kids have been lured into the illegal drug trade because they can’t be prosecuted as adults?

    Legalized alcohol runs the risk of glamorizing alcohol among kids. But it’s a risk we accepted as a society after experiencing a few terribly violent years of constitutional Prohibition.

    I would posit that it’s you who won’t look at the real impact on kids, not me.

    Plus, we’re talking about legalizing something for adults. Don’t hide behind a kid.

  8. - Greg - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    I’m so wasted I forgot what I was going to post!!!!

  9. - js - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:08 pm:

    In this case its “not” for the children.

  10. - FormerParatrooper - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:12 pm:

    Considering that marijuana is legalized in a few states now , my opinion is that it will become legal nationwide soon enough.

    I’ve been to Colorado recently, the only changes I see is a few hotels that had smoking rooms no longer do. One manager told it was because the marijuana smell is harder to clean. I don’t know the validity of that statement but that is what I was told.

    Legalizing marijuana is not going to make me start. So I say let’s dispense with the medical marijuana laws and just legalize it. Tax it, waste the revenue like most other taxes and be done with it.

  11. - Just Observing - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:13 pm:

    @chicago cynic — You certainly must be for alcohol prohibition , right? Your arguments completely fall apart if you favor legalization of alcohol.

  12. - Under Further Review - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:13 pm:

    One celebrated method of policing is “the broken windows” theory. Crack down on petty crimes and you prevent or solve bigger crimes. I am aware of Chicago cops who keep making marijuana arrests rather than writing ordinance violation tickets because they recognize some of the repeat criminals who do more than smoke small amounts of weed.

    Judges dislike petty offenses that crowd their dockets, but how much lawless behavior do we tolerate before we choose to prosecute?

    The Prohibition argument is appealing, but misleading since alcohol had been a legal product for thousands of years. I do not think marijuana entered the mainstream society until forty or fifty years ago.

    I was with a former principal in a public park area and talking about improvements. One constant problem is adolescent vandalism and graffiti. The culprits are general pot smokers, but the suburban police do not make much of an effort to apprehend them too often.

    These are not inner city youths, but teens who have more in common with Bruce Rauner’s neighbors.

  13. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:18 pm:

    The Great Peter Tosh said it best:

    Legalize it, don’t criticize it
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it

    Some call it tampee, tampee
    Some call it the weed
    Some call it marijuana, marijuana
    Some of them call it ganja, ganja

    Every man got to legalize it, and don’t criticize it
    Legalize it yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it

    Singers smoke it
    And players of instrument too
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah
    That’s the best thing you can do

    Doctors smoke it, nurses smoke it
    Judges smoke it, even the lawyer too

    So you’ve got to legalize it, and don’t criticize it
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it

    It’s good for the flu, a good for asthma
    Good for tuberculosis, even umara composis

    Got to legalize it, don’t criticize it
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah, I will advertise it

    Birds eat it, ants love it
    Fowls eat it, goats love to play with it

    So you’ve got to legalize it, don’t criticize it
    Legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it

    Keep on telling you, legalize it

  14. - Joe Schmoe - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:28 pm:

    Gee, you sound like my mom.

  15. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:29 pm:

    The issue with the ticket ordinance would be addressed with this bill. The city’s ordinance allowed CPD to decide whether or not to issue a ticket. This bill would take away that discretion. CPD would have no option but to issue a ticket.

  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:31 pm:

    Am I the only person out here in the blogoshere who is really irritated and frustrated by the amount of resources - time, money, human capital -that we’re spending on the goal of decriminalizing marijuana? I hear propoenents likening the medical marijuana victory to the civil union victory. Full decriminalization would then be tantamount to passage of same-sex marriage legislation? Hmmm…pot vs. jobs, pension reform, tax liability, failing schools, gang violence, etc. No comparison, in my mind. Also, legalizing marijuana would open the door to so much more abuse and exploitiation by former criminals. #justnotworthit

  17. - Tasty Grouper - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    –You completely ignore the question of the impact on kids of complete legalization.–

    I agree with Rich. This is a very short sided view on the part of the poster. How does the violence associated with the drug dealers impact the kids? Are the kids not impacted when otherwise law abiding parents obtain criminal records that put them at a disadvantage for the rest of their lives simply for possessing the flower of a plant? Are the kids not impacted when they go to the corner dealer and instead of just buying some weed, get up sold on some crack and heroine, which WILL do real damage? The policies related to weed (and really the entire war on drugs) has done far more damage to the nation and “the children” than the weed itself will ever do. It is long past due that we take a hard look at our drug policies and reform what has quite obviously been a pointless endeavor. The only “institutions” that seem hell bent on fighting this are the criminal justice lobby and so-called “family values” groups. Time for both to get out of the way, imho.

  18. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:33 pm:

    ===Also, legalizing marijuana would open the door to so much more abuse and exploitiation by former criminals.===

    Dumbest comment of the week.

  19. - Judgment Day - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:39 pm:

    And I a big fan of legalization? No

    But as far as I can tell, what we’ve been doing against marijuana isn’t working, we’re criminalizing non-criminal behavior, we’re probably doing it in both the most expensive -and- inefficient ways possible, and to top it all off, we’re failing at it - and we’re failing miserably.

    What’s to like?

    We need to get smarter about this. Because if for no other reason, we just can’t afford to keep doing this.

    Needs to be exact same rules as tobacco/alcohol. Legalize, regulate, & tax.

    I’m not too concerned about the tax revenue. I want the savings from less regulation and enforcement - and clogging of the court systems, and the criminal justice system.

    That’s where the real money is - saving money you no longer have to spend.

  20. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:48 pm:

    I have friends in Colorado who are against any more states legalizing it–they like all the tourist $$ it brings in.

  21. - Willie Stark - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:49 pm:

    One of the stronger arguments for legalization is the unfair, disproportionate toll that criminalization has on our fellow citizens who happen to be African American. Whites enjoy marijuana at the same rate as African Americans, but, as is well documented, face a fraction of the arrests and incarcerations. Allowing this state of affairs to continue is an impediment to a more just society. Tax it, regulate it, RESEARCH its effects, and educate the public about responsible consumption. Full disclosure: Willie is white, sick of seeing black Americans so wrongly treated on this matter (and others), and decries the gross waste of lives and our tax dollars on a lost, unjust cause.

  22. - Grandson of Man - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:52 pm:

    I was in Colorado this year, driving around and hanging out in Denver and the Rockies. I saw no problems with marijuana legalization.

    I say let’s legalize it and make some legal money off of it. Let’s take as much of the marijuana trade as possible out of the black market and into our pocketbooks and tax coffers.

    P.S. Colorado is awesome and I recommend it to folks. I was there last year too.

  23. - Abraham Froman - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    Upon furthe review: ancient chinese medical books report cannabis being used as far back as 2500 bce, before it was outlawed in the USA in 1937 it was a common ingredient in many patent medicines so it has been around prior to the 1950s, it is a plant you know….

    Chi cynic: how can you say you know what legalization will do to generations of young people if Colorado and Washington just started retail sales this year?!?

    Great post and comments Rich, glad you’re peddling sanity to the prohibitionists, they apparently dont understand the whole life, liberty and pursuit of happiness concept, let alone the first amendment right to freedom of religion (rastafarianism celebrates the cannabis plant as a gift from god)

  24. - Concerned - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:56 pm:

    ==The culprits are general pot smokers, but the suburban police do not make much of an effort to apprehend them too often.==

    In my hamlet (think “leafy suburban paradise”), the cops are obsessed with busting kids for weed. Legalizing weed for adults won’t change that behavior, either among the kids or the cops.

  25. - Willie Stark - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 4:56 pm:

    Adding, look at the polling, just google it, poll after poll is showing majority support for legalization. Also of interest, an NBC/WSJ poll in March 2014 asked:

    Which of the following substances would you say is the MOST harmful to a person’s overall health?

    Tobacco 49%, Alcohol 24%, Sugar 15%, Marijuana 8%, All 3%, Unsure 1%

    Sugar eclipsed marijuana!

  26. - John Boch - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    The “War on Drugs” has done more to erode the rights of Americans more than pretty much anything in the last fifty years.

    Don’t stop with “decriminalization” and don’t stop with marijuana.

    Make it all legal.

    Abusers will abuse. By taking it out of the bad guys’ realm, crime goes down and our cities become safer.

    “Prohibition” fails.


  27. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 5:51 pm:

    First of all, the number one “drug” issue facing adolescents is the abuse of prescription medication. It is vastly easier to get a couple of Oxycontin tabs than a beer or a pack of cigarettes. It is an issue that affects kids regardless of ethnicity or socio-economics. Ask your local PD or school and they will tell you the same thing. Marijuana legalization for adults would actually provide economic relief to our states and not increase costs. It would unclog courts and prisons and lead to revenue for communities. It is no more or less healthy than tobacco or alcohol. Great post Rich, I am with you 100%.

  28. - Amalia - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 6:07 pm:

    I agree. it should be legal. but when you are a law enforcement official dealing with cops who think that legalizing hemp is a problem, her comments are great progress.

  29. - Sunshine - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 6:13 pm:

    Smok’em if you got’em is going to happen one way or another.

    The War on Drugs is a joke and we’re spending billions and achieving next to nothing while the drug trade is making billions.

    Is pot a gateway drug, can be, is alcohol a gateway drug, can be, is trying to win this losing battle worth the billions, while only the bad guys benefit, worth it? I say not.

    Kids will get pot, either way, neighbors will burn joints, and continue to get high. The bad guys will keep cleaning up and we’ll keep losing the battle.

    I think I’ll go roll a pin joint, fix a Johnny Black on ice, put on Pink Floyd, and watch the sunset.

  30. - crazybleedingheart - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 6:20 pm:

    Not nearly enough
    Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014
    * Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez…


    Actually, I think we’ve had more than enough.

  31. - MrJM - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 6:56 pm:

    “You completely ignore the question of the impact on kids of complete legalization.”

    The “impact on kids” of the War on Drugs is well-documented and horrific.

    – MrJM

  32. - Just The Way It Is One - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 7:14 pm:

    It’s a complicated issue, to be sure, but I think we’re going to have this piecemeal approach toward pseudo-decriminalization while many of the current punitive laws remain on the books. Although MedMar was approved, it’s the strictest version among the minority of States which HAVE approved it. It very well may happen down the road a piece, but I just don’t see us here in Illinois going the way of Colorado or Washington any time real soon…

  33. - Roadiepig - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 7:21 pm:

    Amen Rich. The lame excuses the pro-Prohibitionist always use are the same flawed ones that were used against alcohol. And please stop using children as an excuse for keeping pot illegal- if someone underage is caught toking they should face the same punishments as if they are caught with a bottle of Jack Daniels. Same for the person who provided the seed to the youth. But if pot is regulated and sold in stores it would be a lot easier to crack down on people who would sell to underaged youths than trying to find which corner the youth bought it from a drug dealer on the streets. That’s why regulating it is the only sane way to go.

  34. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 7:34 pm:

    prohibition has been the experiment (reefer madness) bring back 1937

  35. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 9:46 pm:

    “That’s insane.

    1) How many outlaw drug dealers check IDs before selling to kids?

    2) How many kids have been lured into the illegal drug trade because they can’t be prosecuted as adults?

    Legalized alcohol runs the risk of glamorizing alcohol among kids. But it’s a risk we accepted as a society after experiencing a few terribly violent years of constitutional Prohibition.

    I would posit that it’s you who won’t look at the real impact on kids, not me.

    Plus, we’re talking about legalizing something for adults. Don’t hide behind a kid.”


    FIrst off, calling me insane is beneath you. You know who I am and you know I’m arguing out of personal experience with a family member whose life was ruined once she became addicted to pot. So back off with the personal abuse.

    Second, your arguments are not responsive to mine. I’m talking about the impact of having a societal blessing of pot as a legal substance and the impact on teenagers broadly. You respond with an argument that relates more to the problem of disparate treatment of minorities lured into the drug trade. We agree about that but disagree about the solution.

    Further, I’m not hiding behind a kid. I have two and am very concerned about them growing up in a society that INCREASES the availability of drugs like pot. Pot use will grow dramatically with legalization. This will increase the use of other drugs and addiction rates. Watch Colorado and give it time to see how it works out before jumping into full legalization. It’s a rational response.

    And no, I don’t favor restoring alcohol prohibition. We’ve made that decision as a society and we’ve accepted the enormous cost to our society (as a drinker, I’m not moralizing against it, just pointing out the facts). But just because booze is legal doesn’t mean everything should be.

  36. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 10:43 pm:

    ===FIrst off, calling me insane is beneath you===

    I didn’t. Don’t argue like a child. I called your declaration about me insane.

  37. - Freeze up - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 10:44 pm:

    Rich, I disagree, the dumbest comment of the day is by Alvarez. Increase the penalties for trafficking? Really? More than 5,000 grams (about 11 pounds) gets you a class x and a mandatory minimum of 12 years. Probation is not an option. That’s pretty steep by anyone’s standards I think. Judges might hate having their dockets full of petty offenses but I can tell you first hand they hate finding a defendant guilty and putting a 12 year sentence on him/her.

    These big number sentences actually hurt prosecutions and justice more than most would guess.

  38. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 10:46 pm:

    === But just because booze is legal doesn’t mean everything should be.===

    Never said everything should be legal. But just because your pleasure drug of choice is legal doesn’t mean you should have the right to put others in prison for enjoying a joint every now and then.

    And, for the record, I don’t smokey the weedie. I’m just sick of the very real and extensive damage this horribly failed, decades-long war is doing to society.

  39. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Aug 19, 14 @ 11:19 pm:

    goodness, would a parent of an addict endorse the drug distibution system that is in place right now or want change were it is kept at walgreens?

  40. - Lobo y Olla - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 7:06 am:

    So at least I’m not the only one Rich has been jerky to.

  41. - georgeatt - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 8:22 am:

    Those remnants from the dark ages continually harp about the children, fail to mention that alcohol and tobacco have been far more detrimental to the young and, yet, are within a child’s reach at the store. It is past time for the legalization of marijuana for adult use.

  42. - ucster - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 8:48 am:

    ==The “War on Drugs” has done more to erode the rights of Americans more than pretty much anything in the last fifty years.==


  43. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 8:54 am:

    abe smoked the sweet leaf and played his harmonica(burt his brain out)

  44. - Checkers - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 9:08 am:

    Well said, Rich.

  45. - Federalist - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 9:12 am:

    Decriminalize it and tax it?

    I am sympathetic to arguments for a couple of ozs of pot for personal consumption in one’s own home only. More than that - throw the book at them.

    However, if the price, including tax, is more on the ‘legal’ market than it is on the street, nothing will have been accomplished - except more drugs on the street.

  46. - Toure's Latte - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 9:27 am:

    A neighbor who is about sixty informed me recently, when discussing this very issue, that he never stopped after college. I was reasonably floored. I’ll stick with my whisky, but if there are 70’s generation who still smoke, and have raised families and been good loving spouses and taxpayers, what’s he difference between his pot now and my whiskey during prohibition?

    He declines my offer for a stiff one, and now I decline his offer for a spliff one.

  47. - vise77 - Wednesday, Aug 20, 14 @ 9:29 am:

    “You know who I am and you know I’m arguing out of personal experience with a family member whose life was ruined once she became addicted to pot”

    I am sorry for your trouble.

    That said, I have had no relatives or friends get addicted to or in any type of even minor trouble from pot, though many smoke it, as do I, regularly. I have had many relatives and friends, myself included, face serious troubles stemming from booze. (Which I no longer use regularly.)

    I mean, if we are going to argue through personal experiences, let’s have at it.

    Again, sorry for your family troubles. Honestly.

  48. - friend app - Wednesday, Sep 3, 14 @ 10:37 am:

    Article writing is also a fun, if you be acquainted with afterward you can write or else it is difficult to

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