By Steve Elliott
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."