Pot Cases Stay Close To Home 

Pot Cases Stay Close To Home 
Posted by CN Staff on August 21, 2005 at 07:06:04 PT
By Daniel Duggan, Staff Writer
Source: Daily Southtown
Illinois -- Someone caught in Oak Lawn with a small amount of marijuana soon might get a ticket similar to those for parking violations. The same person caught a few blocks away in Chicago could wind up in court and face jail time. Across the Southland, towns have mixed opinions how marijuana possession cases should be handled. Oak Lawn changed its policy because police often overlook cases with small amounts of marijuana out of fear they'll be lost in the court system, Mayor Dave Heilmann said.
The change was approved by the village board Aug. 9, and police will begin writing local tickets in about a month."A teenager caught smoking pot will then be dealt with closer to home, in the village hall," Heilmann said. "And a $500 fine stinks. It sends a message."Some officials worry fines aren't enough. "The Legislature makes the statutes. It's not up to the police to minimize how dangerous drugs can be," Chicago Ridge Police Chief Tim Balderman said. In the past two years, Lansing, Midlothian and Orland Park have initiated programs to issue fines locally for possession cases.Police in those towns have the option of arresting a person and sending them to circuit court or writing a ticket and sending the offender to traffic court. In local courts, fines range from $50 to $1,000  and the town gets all of the money. Last year, Orland Park collected $10,000 from 70 possession tickets, according to the police department. Midlothian police estimate $2,000 was collected.Towns that don't handle possession cases locally share any fines with state and county agencies, Cook County Circuit Clerk spokesman Bryant Payne said. In the court system, penalties for misdemeanor possession can be as high as $2,500 and a year in jail, said Tom Stanton, spokesman for the Cook County state's attorney's office. Possession of more than 30 grams is a felony and can bring prison time up to 15 years with fines up to $25,000, he said.Of the misdemeanor cases from suburban Cook County that went to court in 2004, there were 3,000 convictions and 700 dismissals. In Chicago, there were 3,000 convictions and 15,000 dismissals. The high rate of dismissed cases from Chicago led one police officer in September 2004 to push to make possession of marijuana a local offense. The city turned down the idea.Chicago marijuana possession cases still are handled by the circuit court, said spokesman Dave Bayless, but there have been policy changes so the cases take less time for police officers to process. "We won't do anything that gives the appearance of decriminalization," he said. "What works in Oak Lawn might not work in Chicago and vice-versa. "We still view possession of marijuana as an offense where someone needs to be arrested, processed and put before a judge."Midlothian Police Chief Vince Schavone said there have been fewer tickets  15  so far this year under the new system than in 2004. "I think we'll see less first-time offenders coming back," he said. "If an officer finds someone with a small amount of marijuana, it won't get flushed down the toilet  they'll get a fine. "So there's a ramification."The Lynwood Police Department soon may issue tickets for marijuana possession, said Police Chief Dave Palmer. As president of the South Suburban Association of Chiefs of Police, he said every department should handle marijuana possession locally. "I think a fine will teach someone a lesson," he said. Calvina Fay, executive director of the Florida-based Drug Free America Foundation, said it will take more than fines to stop drugs.The fear of jail time keeps people from committing crimes, said Fay, whose group opposes drug legalization efforts and promotes drug treatment. "In the court system, people can be progressively disciplined and leveraged into a program to help them stop using drugs," she said. "If we simply give them a fine and don't maximize the penalty, we're missing a golden opportunity."Note: Oak Lawn latest town to make small possession a ticketable offense. Source: Daily Southtown (IL)Author: Daniel Duggan, Staff WriterPublished: Sunday, August 21, 2005Copyright: 2005 Daily SouthtownContact: dstedit interaccess.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives
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Comment #7 posted by ekim on August 21, 2005 at 19:22:58 PT
Shark! Shark! Meth! Meth! 
Aug 27 05 "Last Call" on KDXU News Talk Radio 890AM with Dan Murphy 07:00 AM Jack Cole St. Georges UT USA 
 Shark! Shark! Meth! Meth! Getting bit by a shark and using methamphetamine are both dangerous to one’s health. But just as the news media has hyped the number of shark attacks in recent years, the “meth epidemic” has also been over blown by these same news organizations. To put America’s meth situation into perspective and offer solutions for harm reduction, Executive Director Jack Cole discusses the Meth Myth with Dan Murphy host of "Last Call" on KDXU News Talk Radio 890AM, in St. Georges, Utah from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. Mountain Time, Saturday morning.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on August 21, 2005 at 17:15:47 PT
Drugs Are Bad OK
I have been doing a lot of thinking today and thought about the push on Meth. I have seen problems in the past with Meth and other drugs. I was really sad when I saw a person spinning themselves into the ground. It's really a tragic waste of life. So I am really against drugs but I can not justify putting a person in jail that has a hard drug problem. If they commit a crime then they should be prosecuted for the CRIME not the substance. 
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Comment #5 posted by charmed quark on August 21, 2005 at 15:06:52 PT
Media is very complicit
I just saw a CNN article about "Meth Babies". They are digging up the same propaganda they used for "Crack Babies". I think they are using the same footage. "Crack Babies" turned out to be very rare, essentially a made up condition. Studies showed that the symptoms were from being premature, and that the mother's cigarette smoking contributed more to premature births than the crack did. But not before they were throwing pregnant women in jail for having cocaine in their blood. And attacking poor communities.Don't get me wrong - I think meth is a very bad drug and I think a pregnant woman should be very careful about any drug she might use, including cold medications. But the DEA has only been forcibly refocused from marijuana to meth a few days and already they got this propaganda out. And the media just echos it. They never try to get at the truth of it all.-CQ
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Comment #4 posted by Hope on August 21, 2005 at 10:55:36 PT
The media
They didn't just "let" it happen. They provided the volition for the thing to go as far as it has.
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Comment #3 posted by Hope on August 21, 2005 at 10:53:56 PT
The media
are definitely complicit in the drug war and the damage it causes.If they were anything about the facts and digging for and reporting the truth, the people that are dead today, because of the war on drugs, would likely be alive and well. And...oh gosh...the people caught up in the so called "justice" system!It never should have happened and the media had a lot to do with letting it happen.A "watchdog" that licks the hand of the intruder is no "watchdog" at all.
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Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on August 21, 2005 at 10:37:38 PT
Why does an Illinois paper contact Calvina Fay in Florida for her raving nonsense but won't contact NORML in Washington or even the local Illinois chapter for their perspective?
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Comment #1 posted by Hope on August 21, 2005 at 10:13:55 PT
"The fear of jail time keeps people from committing crimes, said Fay, whose group opposes drug legalization efforts and promotes drug treatment."
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