Pubdate: Tue, 29 Apr 2014
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Author: Brian Slodysko
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Page: 11


It's time for Illinois lawmakers to move beyond state-sanctioned 
medical marijuana and, as they say, legalize it.

That's the view of four Chicago-area Democratic officeholders. They 
held a news conference Monday, 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.

Illinois is already in the process of making medical pot available to 
those with a so-called legitimate need.

But backers of the budding effort - including Chicago area state 
representatives Mike Zalewski, Kelly Cassidy and Christian Mitchell, 
who also appeared with Fritchey at the news conference - cited a bevy 
of statistics that suggested pot legalization could help solve more 
than just medical ailments.

For example, racial minorities are often the target of enforcement 
efforts, they say, while their white counterparts are not arrested to 
the same degree for marijuana possession.

"You'll see people getting swept off the streets on a daily basis on 
the South Side and the West Side. You don't see kids getting arrested 
in Lincoln Park," said Fritchey, who is a former legislator.

But anyone pining for statewide legalization should probably chill.

The group has yet to drop a bill in Springfield to legalize the drug 
and, in reality, substantive change is likely a ways off, they 
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 is classified a "dangerous" 
Schedule I narcotic by the federal government.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom