Poll: Over 60% of Illinois Voters Support Marijuana Decriminalization


Supporters call on members of the House of Representatives to pass bills approved last week by the House Restorative Justice Committee that would replace criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois with a non-criminal fine

By Marijuana Policy Project
[Note: Urbana provides a decrim option to its police, but this bill would make a much-needed, clear-cut break with past policy by removing all criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of cannabis in every Illinois jusrisdiction.]

CHICAGO, IL — Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63% of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27% oppose the proposal. The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available here.

House Bill 5708, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), would eliminate criminal penalties and the possibility of a criminal record for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana. It would establish a new class of offense called a “regulatory offense,” which would prohibit arrest or jail time, limit fines to no more than $100, and require the ticket to be removed from a person’s record after the fine is paid, which would prevent individuals from losing employment and housing opportunities.

“Nobody should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana, a substance less harmful than alcohol,” said Rep. Cassidy. “These devastating penalties are irrational and unjust. Our law enforcement officials’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of marijuana possession cases.”

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, was also released at the press conference. A criminal record for marijuana possession can make it difficult to pursue one’s chosen profession, to get a job, or to even get housing. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University.

“Illinoisans are tired of seeing their tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources wasted on arresting and prosecuting marijuana users,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers have a chance to do the right thing by listening to their constituents and supporting this sensible legislation.”

Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution/Noncommercial/Share-Alike License for non-profit organizations only.


Retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens says Legalize Marijuana

by Phillip Smith

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that the federal government should follow the lead of states that have legalized marijuana. That makes him the first Supreme Court justice — retired or otherwise — to endorse legalization.

WASHINGTON, DC — Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said on Thursday that the federal government should follow the lead of states that have legalized marijuana. That makes him the first Supreme Court justice — retired or otherwise — to endorse legalization.

“Yes,” Stevens replied when asked by NPR’s Scott Simon as to whether marijuana should be legalized under federal law. “I really think that that’s another instance of public opinion [that's] changed. And recognize that the distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction. Alcohol, the prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug.”

This isn’t the first time Justice Stevens has taken a progressive stand on drug policy. In a 2011 interview in Time magazine, the bow-tied jurist slammed harsh drug sentencing.

“The use of mandatory minimum statutes has had a very adverse effect on the overall system, and I think generally, the so-called war on drugs has emphasized more-severe punishment than is appropriate throughout the country,” Stevens said then. “There are some instances where penalties are so disproportionate that they could well violate the Eighth Amendment.”

And although Stevens authored the Supreme Court opinion in Gonzales v. Raich upholding federal preeminence over state medical marijuana laws, he has also called it “most unwise” to prohibit the medical use of the drug.

Stevens’ latest remarks were cheered by Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority.

“Justice Stevens is right. Public opinion is shifting rapidly in favor of marijuana legalization,” said Angell. “Polls now consistently show that a clear majority of the public supports ending prohibition and, as this trend continues, we’ll start to see more prominent people and politicians saying it’s time to change the laws.”

Stevens served as Supreme Court justice from 1975 to 2010.

Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution/Noncommercial/Share-Alike License for registered non-profit cannabis reform organizations only.


Chicago-area Officials Call for Recreational Pot Use to be Legal

by Brian Slodysko

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

At least that’s according to four Chicago-area Democrats who hold elected public offices. The group held a press conference Monday at the Cook County building, 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, drawing a parallel with the outlawing of booze in the early 20th Century.  

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. Meanwhile, their white counterparts are not arrested to the same degree for marijuana possession, they say.

“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 sit down, order a pizza and 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, the group 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 for now is classified a “dangerous” Schedule I narcotic by the federal government.

Voters in Washington state and Colorado recently passed measures at the ballot box that did just that, though the new marijuana laws in those states are in conflict with federal drug laws.  

In Illinois, action by state lawmakers would be required; the state does not have as robust a referendum and initiative process as the other two states, proponents said.

One upshot of legalization is that cash-strapped state and local governments could tax weed sales, delivering useful cash at a time when many are struggling to find new sources or revenue.

Still, any push to decriminalize or legalize pot would draw opponents.

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is one. Stopping drivers from driving while high would be a big concern for law enforcement, said John Kennedy, executive director for the group.

“We have a problem with driving under the influence on our highways and this is going to make it much, much worse,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy was also skeptical about the suggestion that legalization of weed could free cops up to bust bigger criminals instead of low-level pot smokers.

“In theory, it’s a possibly. But I don’t think  it is in reality,” he said, adding that pot can be a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

Still, backers say public opinion is already swaying to their side.

“Public opinion moves much more quickly than legislators’ [opinions],” said Cassidy. If marijuana is decriminalized, she added: “The sky won’t fall.”

Copyright © 2014. Sun-Times Media, LLC


Mr. Kennedy Is Propagating Ignorance

John Kennedy is full of it. There is only a very weak association between cannabis use and higher accident rates -- on par with aspirin and penicillin. No one is suggesting we test for aspirin or penicillin impairment, let alone making them illegal and starting a war on their users. There are plenty of people who use cannabis and manage to drive responsibility and safely after an appropriate interval -- and they are far more likely to display responsible behavior like that than the typical alcohol user. If you're interested in the science -- and not some shoddy propaganda from a guy who's afraid his members somehow will not have eneough business when cannabis is legalized  -- then the following article will be of interest, along with the linked citations.

Higher THC/Blood Levels Don’t Lead to Greater Fatal Accident Risk

by Paul Armentano

PORIRUA, NEW ZEALAND – Marijuana-positive drivers possess a slightly elevated risk of accident compared to drug and alcohol free divers, but this risk is not positively correlated with higher blood/THC levels, according to the results of a crash culpability analysis published online in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.

New Zealand researchers assessed the risk of accident associated with drivers who tested positive for the presence of drugs or alcohol in their blood compared to drug and alcohol free drivers in a cohort of 1,046 fatal vehicle crashes.

Alcohol-positive drivers were most likely to be culpable in fatal accidents (OR=13.7). Drivers who tested positive for drugs other than alcohol, including opiates, sedatives, cannabis, and stimulants, possessed an overall odds ratio of 3.5.

Drivers who tested positive for both cannabis and alcohol in their blood possessed were strongly associated with accident culpability (OR=6.9). By contrast, drivers who tested positive for the presence of marijuana only, as indicated by the presence of THC in blood, were weakly associated with accident culpability (OR=1.3). Notably, drivers who tested positive for the presence of THC in blood at levels of 5ng/ml or higher possessed no elevated rate of accident culpability (OR=1), but those with trace levels of THC (less than 2 ng/ml) did possess greater rates of culpability (OR=3.1).

According to a factsheet published by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “It is difficult to establish a relationship between a person’s THC blood or plasma concentration and performance impairing effects. It is inadvisable to try and predict effects based on blood THC concentrations alone, and currently impossible to predict specific effects based on THC-COOH (metabolite) concentrations.”

A road-performance study commissioned by the United States Department of Transportation similarly acknowledges: “One of the program’s objectives was to determine whether it is possible to predict driving impairment by plasma concentrations of THC … in single samples. The answer is very clear: it is not. Plasma of drivers showing substantial impairment in these studies contained both high and low THC concentrations, and, drivers with high plasma concentrations showed substantial, but also no impairment, or even some improvement.”

Two states, Washington and Montana, define drivers who operate a motor vehicle with 5ng/ml or more of THC in blood as per se impaired. Colorado law presumes impairment in motorists who possess more than 5ng/ml of THC in their blood. Three states – Nevada (2ng/ml), Ohio (2ng/ml), and Pennsylvania (1ng/ml) – impose lower per se limits for THC in blood. Eleven states impose zero tolerance per se laws for the presence of cannabis. Other states require prosecutors to provide evidence of recent drug ingestion as well as evidence that a driver was under the influence of the substances that he or she had consumed in order to gain a DUI drug conviction.

In a 2013 review published in the Humboldt Journal of Social Relations, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano opined against the imposition of per se limits for cannabinoids, arguing: “The sole presence of THC and/or its metabolites in blood, particularly at low levels, is an inconsistent and largely inappropriate indicator of psychomotor impairment in cannabis consuming subjects. … As additional states consider amending their cannabis consumption laws, lawmakers would be advised to consider alternative legislative approaches to address concerns over DUI cannabis behavior that do not rely solely on the presence of THC or its metabolites in blood or urine as determinants of guilt in a court of law. Otherwise, the imposition of traffic safety laws may inadvertently become a criminal mechanism for law enforcement and prosecutors to punish those who have engaged in legally protected behavior and who have not posed any actionable traffic safety threat.”

According to a 2013 meta-analysis of 66 studies published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention, drug positive drivers for amphetamines (OR=6.19), opiates (OR=1.91) and benzodiazepenes (OR=1.17) possess the highest adjusted odds ratios of traffic accident injury, while drug positive drivers for penicillin (OR=1.12), antihistamines (OR= 1.12), cannabis (OR=1.10), and analgesics (OR=1.02) possess the lowest odds ratios.

Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution/Noncommercial/Share-Alike License for registered non-profit cannabis reform organizations only.


US Rep. Rodney Davis Votes Against Veterans

Davis among 222 voting against allowing Vet Admin Docs to dicuss use of marijuana for PTSD or other medical conditions in states where it is legal, including Illinois.

House doesn’t want V.A. docs to give all options to Veterans

Currently, the Veteran’s Administration specifically prohibits their doctors from discussing or recommending medical marijuana for their patients.

This evening, Representative Blumenauer offered an amendment to HR4486 – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 – that would allow V.A. doctors to recommend medical marijuana to qualified patients in states where it was legal. (background)

The amendment was defeated 222-195.


This should outrage veterans everywhere. The lack of attention to veteran care is criminal as it is, but to continue to vote to censor doctors who advise veterans when other citizens can go to their personal doctor and get all the options, just isn’t right.

Here’s the roll call. A “Yes” vote meant that they wanted to change the law to allow Veterans’ doctors to recommend medical marijuana. A “No” vote meant they wanted to continue to censor V.A. doctors.

Copyright © 2014 Drug WarRant


Davis, other Local US R Graded F by Americans for Safe Access

Americans for Safe Access has a new website devoted to tracking the voting records of federal officials on legislation of importance to medical marijuana patients. US Rep. Rodney Davis was graded F by ASA, along with other local congresscritters Randy Hultgren and John Shimkus.

Pain and suffering are non-partisan, so why do Republicans keep voting for big government solutions and opposing individual and state rights to seek the best medical treatment available?



Post new comment

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer