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Illinois: Elected Officials Say It's Time To Legalize Marijuana

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A group of elected officials at a Monday press conference in downtown Chicago said it's time to legalize marijuana in Illinois.

Four Democrats from the Chicago area held the media event at the Cook County building, calling for the state to immediately decriminalize marijuana, and eventually to legalize its recreational use by adults, reports Brian Slodysko at the Chicago Sun-Times.

"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," said Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey.

Chicago-area state representatives Mike Zalewski, Kelly Cassidy and Christian Mitchell appeared at the press conference along with Fritchey.

Illinois law has already changed to allow the medicinal use of cannabis with a doctor's authorization; the state still drafting the rules for its medical marijuana program, described as one of the strictest in the nation.

Backers of the legalization effort cite statistics showing that marijuana prohibition targets racial minorities, because whites are not arrested at the same rates for the same crime.

"Marijuana usage among racial categories is essentially the same," Fritchey said. "The disparity in Chicago and Cook County is overwhelmingly disproportionate toward African-Americans and Latinos being arrested for simple possession."

Illinois: Veterans Seen As Key To Medical Marijuana Lobbying Efforts

IllinoisMedicalMarijuana

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Pleas from veterans who have serious illnesses and from their families have been at the center of the effort to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn, who has placed veterans' issues at the top of his agenda, now must decide whether to sign a medical marijuana law approved by both houses of the Legislature.

Gov. Quinn has mentioned hearing compelling stories of sick patients, including a veteran, who have been aided by cannabis, reports Sophia Tareen of The Associated Press. And as he decides whether to sign the measure, those personal stories could make a difference.

But Quinn is facing the start of what could be a bruising reelection campaign, and has only said, so far, that he is "open minded" to medical marijuana.

Some law enforcement officials, predictably, oppose the measure. It would allow seriously ill patients who have a doctor's authorization to use pot.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association have called on Gov. Quinn to veto the measure, claiming it would create additional dangers for motorists. (They must not have seen the study which shows fatal auto accidents decrease in states which have legalized medicinal cannabis.)

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