Tags: emanuel | decriminalize | marijuana

Emanuel: Decriminalize Marijuana Possession of Less Than 15 Grams

By    |   Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 02:15 PM

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed to decriminalize marijuana possession of 15 grams or less in Illinois in a 90-minute speech in front of the state's joint House-Senate Criminal Reform Committee on Tuesday.

The mayor also called for reducing the penalty for someone caught for 1 gram or less of any controlled substance — an estimated 7,000 people annually in Illinois — to be a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

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"It's time, in my view, to free up our criminal justice system to address our real public safety challenges and build on the progress that has been made," Emanuel said of decriminalizing marijuana, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Emanuel told the session, according to WMAQ-TV, that where Chicago lowered minimum marijuana laws, Chicago police made nearly 5,000 fewer arrests in 2013 for low-level cannabis possession, allowing officers to spend more time on more serious crimes.

Some state lawmakers told reporters, though, that they believe Emanuel is trying to use the issue as a backdoor to advocate for stronger penalties on gun crimes by then including mandatory minimums sentencing, reported WMAQ-TV.

"Mandatory minimums simply don't work," State Rep. Ken Dunkin told the television station. "That's what he advocated for and he lost on it in Springfield, and this is a result of that. Just because he is behind it doesn't mean it's a green light."

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, a frequent critic of Emanuel, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the mayor should have gone the next step and called for the drug's legalization.

"If you look at Colorado in the first quarter, they generated $80 million," Lewis told the Sun-Times. "We need to tax it. It's an important revenue source."

State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, a former narcotics prosecutor from suburban DuPage County, said de-emphasizing drugs could make problems worse. In his county, a person dies every eight days from a heroin or opiate overdose, wrote the Sun-Times.

"One of my concerns is that, if you make it a misdemeanor for possession of heroin, it makes it easier for drug dealers to sell in smaller amounts," Reboletti said. "That way, they'll carry less."

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed to decriminalize marijuana possession of 15 grams or less in Illinois in a 90-minute speech in front of the state's joint House-Senate Criminal Reform Committee on Tuesday.
emanuel, decriminalize, marijuana
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2014-15-24
Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014 02:15 PM
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