Pot Laws Should Be Eased

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  Pot Laws Should Be Eased

Posted by CN Staff on October 27, 2011 at 19:28:27 PT
By Mary Schmich  
Source: Chicago Tribune 

Illinois -- One day this summer, I had two experiences that made me grasp how fast attitudes toward marijuana are changing.I pulled into the parking lot of a small shopping strip in the heart of Eugene, Ore., and noticed a cute storefront with a green awning and freshly painted salmon-colored walls. Clothing boutique? Massage spa? Juice bar? I walked up to the gleaming display windows. It was a brand new medical marijuana dispensary.
Later that day, a report came on the radio about an amazing occurrence in Denver. In the Mile High City, medical marijuana dispensaries now outnumber Starbucks, such a profusion that a local alternative weekly employs a pot critic to review them.It's not just in California anymore, Toto.Here in Illinois, marijuana still comes with a strong whiff of the illicit.Plenty of people smoke it — in living rooms, on decks, in parks, behind bars — but it remains against the law, despite the fact that, according to a recent Gallup poll, a record-breaking half of Americans think it should be legal. In May, the Illinois Legislature voted down a bill to authorize it for medical purposes, although two-thirds of Americans think that use should be allowed.But attitudes are shifting even on our cautious Midwestern shores.Not long ago, Toni Preckwinkle, the new president of the Cook County Board, had the guts to state the obvious: The war on drugs has failed. Substance abuse should be treated as a public health problem, not a crime.She went a bold step further: Let's stop arresting and incarcerating people for possessing small amounts of weed.Preckwinkle points out that even if the charges are eventually dropped, as they usually are in Chicago, people who can't make bail get stuck in jail, at a cost of $143 per day. That's our tax money. Why not fine offenders instead?Such an approach frees up jail space, frees officers to stay on patrol instead of processing paperwork, and raises money.Now some Chicago politicians are following Preckwinkle's lead. Next week, Ald. Daniel Solis, backed by several other aldermen, will introduce a proposal to change how people caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana are treated. Instead of being arrested, they'd get a $200 ticket and have to perform up to 10 hours of community service.The idea is overdue.I say this even though I don't enjoy marijuana. I hated it when I tried it in college. I hated it when I used it a couple times afterward. It made my brain feel like a giant mothball. It made conversation stupid. Inhaling wasn't worth the work.But it's time to put marijuana into perspective. Decades of prohibition haven't reduced its use. More people than ever smoke it, some for pure pleasure, some as a cure for pain.For some, it turns into addiction. But those who grow addicted — like people addicted to cigarettes, Percocet or pinot gris — have a health problem. Treating them as criminals doesn't solve their problem or society's.Of course, many people who smoke dope already do it with impunity. Lollapalooza, anyone?In Chicago, punishment falls with appalling disproportion on black men. For a thorough analysis of that disturbing truth, read the excellent July piece by Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky in the Chicago Reader:'ve demonized marijuana for so long that it's hard to shift attitudes and laws. But they're shifting anyway.Chicago may not need as many marijuana shops as Starbucks, but it does need laws that deal more squarely with reality.Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)Author: Mary Schmich Published: October 28, 2011Copyright: 2011 Chicago Tribune CompanyWebsite:  -- Cannabis Archives

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Comment #17 posted by Hope on October 29, 2011 at 17:42:55 PT
I'm not inclined to cussing... but I want to cuss.
I want to cuss a lot and I want to call Gil Kerlikowski names about him being a liar, and a wicked person, and a shill for a con on the people. I want to say something about him prostituting himself to a lie. Aaaargh. It's so revolting. It's so disgusting.Man. This whole farce they use for persecuting people! It's infuriating. Infuriating!!/petition/legalize-and-regulate-marijuana-manner-similar-alcohol/y8l45gb1Do they not know that everyone, except a bunch of freaking, know nothing, prohibitionists, knows they're lying. They're lying right in our faces. They know we know... and they're still lying. It's so insulting. It's so sickening.I just can't believe this goes on and on like it does.
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Comment #16 posted by Oleg the tumor on October 29, 2011 at 10:51:19 PT:
The Doctors are the Key . . .
It is America's Physicians that all should turn to for their views. These people cannot hope to get straight answers from patients on questions regarding Cannabis so long as the Federal position remains.
The Doctors position is, essentially, that the Federal cure (of using the police and justice system) is worse than the malady ("Drug Use", including Cannibis, a natural plant - not a prepared compound)
The Cal Medical Assn. spoke up as it did because it sees the Administration using Police powers to dictate policy to physicians, even to the point of using a former police chief to write the White "Petitions" response, re: "What We Have to Say about Legalizing Marijuana", by Gil Kerlikowske, now the Director of National Drug Control Policy. 
The long and the short of it is that this guy is not a doctor, he is a cop. If the doctors let this precedent pass without comment and response, then they do so at their great peril of scientific understanding.  
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Comment #15 posted by FoM on October 29, 2011 at 07:42:30 PT
I am trying to think what was good about the 50s and I can't think of anything. I felt conformity was pushed on us. Maybe it was because of being raised Catholic that I questioned so much from a young age. The 60s finally allowed me to see that other people didn't believe in what was being pushed into our minds. Being liberated from what we were taught and finding our own and different way came from all that happened in the 60s. 
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Comment #14 posted by Hope on October 28, 2011 at 22:31:37 PT
It seems like they want to.
"... the Republicans are definitely living in the 1950s."Some things about the fifties were really good. Some were not. Society can keep things that are good and still grow and find other things and ways that are good.Some things were considerably better about the fifties, than the forties, for a lot of people. More peace and less war. More life and less death.Things were simpler and much less complicated then, but most people don't want to go back to that sort of simplicity and quietness in their lives. Not full time, anyway. We don't need a lot of stuff from the fifties. Segregation and polio are a couple that come to mind.Things were exciting and changing, too. We were moving quickly towards walking on the moon for one thing. A Jetson type future was hoped for by many.Some people are so afraid of changes, even changes for the better. And it can be more difficult for some than it is for others. But change is better than holding on to the wrong way of doing things and the wrong attitudes forever.We can make things simpler and safer and more about peace right now, and encouraging prosperity, by being bold enough and confident enough to legalize and decriminalize marijuana throughout the country.
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Comment #13 posted by vincent on October 28, 2011 at 21:53:01 PT:
Storm Crow
   "I'm sticking my neck out; Dem's will support   it, Repub's will not".You don't have to "stick your neck out" on this one, there's no way in the world that any substantial number of Republicans will vote for it. When it comes to the Marijuana issue, the Republicans are definitely living in the 1950s.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on October 28, 2011 at 20:15:38 PT
No problem at all.
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Comment #11 posted by greenmed on October 28, 2011 at 17:06:09 PT

Please delete my comment #5. I feel it's too offtopic.
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Comment #10 posted by The GCW on October 28, 2011 at 16:09:11 PT

Storm Crow, #1
"Chicago police make about 23,000 arrests each year for possession of the drug" (plant)-There's the hook.! Police unions are not going to like giving up that job security. If cops even start to open their traps... (pun intended...)I'm sticking my neck out; Dem's will support it, Repub's will not. Let's hope I'm wrong and they all support it.
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Comment #9 posted by schmeff on October 28, 2011 at 12:43:13 PT

I'm All For It -- With Hope
Hope is right. Any much is too much. Let's make sure the cigarette and pinot gris crowd pay their $200 and ten days of community service. Then I'll cheer.
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Comment #8 posted by Paint with light on October 28, 2011 at 01:24:57 PT

comments from across the pond
I am committed to working towards legalizing cannabis.Some interesting thoughts here on all drugs. like alcohol.....someday.
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Comment #7 posted by GentleGiant on October 27, 2011 at 23:29:16 PT:

Addiction? Stupid Conversation?
Addiction? Great, another fool that had a few tokes and then thinks, he's an expert. Stupid converstation? For starters, he must of been too stupid to understand what was going on. Geez! Addiction? By now, you would think, our hospitals should be filled to the hilt with addicted marijuana users. Where are those addicted marijuana users? Too finally get someone like this to change their views on marijuana, that's monumental.
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Comment #6 posted by Hope on October 27, 2011 at 22:26:16 PT

It's still too much...
"Instead of being arrested, they'd get a $200 ticket and have to perform up to 10 hours of community service."But it's better than, "... six months in jail, a $1,500 fine and a criminal record."I hope they do it.
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Comment #4 posted by Vincent on October 27, 2011 at 20:49:53 PT:

I agree with most of this opinion, but...
This opinon isn't fascinating to me. As Mr. Spock would say, "I reserve the word 'fascinating' for the unusual; in this case the word 'interesting' should suffice". We on this board have known about intelligent attitudes toward Marijuana for...years! However, I must take issue with this statement:"I hated it (marijuana) when I tried it in college. It made conversation stupid".Quite the opposite is true. It makes conversation FAR more cerebral, that's a proven fact.
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Comment #3 posted by Storm Crow on October 27, 2011 at 20:28:49 PT

Here's hoping...
That it spreads! It's just plain common sense! And since that recent poll where 50% supported legalization, it may soon be political suicide NOT to support easing (or eliminating) penalties! 
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Comment #2 posted by FoM on October 27, 2011 at 20:18:35 PT

Storm Crow
It's a good beginning for Chicago!
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Comment #1 posted by Storm Crow on October 27, 2011 at 19:50:05 PT

Here's a very good start! may decriminalize marijuanaChicago pot smokers may soon be able to light up without fear of jail time.Several Windy City councilmen said Thursday they plan to introduce a local law that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in order to cut costs and free up police to handle more serious crimes.Chicago police make about 23,000 arrests each year for possession of the drug, a misdemeanor which nevertheless carries stiff punishment of up to six months in jail, a $1,500 fine and a criminal record.Under the new law set to be introduced next week, people caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana would instead face a $200 fine and up to 10 hours of community service. 
(snipped)No more jail time, no more criminal record, and a much smaller fine- sounds like a good start! And 10 hours of community service won't hurt most folks! Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey thought it was a good idea! Finally, politicians are getting a bit more sense! 
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