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by Medea Benjamin and Cayman Kai
[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.
by Thomas H. Clarke
DALLAS, TX – Long before Washington and Colorado legalized pot for recreational use, opponents to marijuana legalization were arguing that allowing marijuana for medicinal purposes would result in higher rates of crime and delinquency. But a new study by researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas determined that not to be the case.
In fact, researchers say, decriminalizing marijuana may actually reduce violent crime rates.
“The main finding is that we found no increase in crime rates resulting from medical marijuana legalization,” explained Dr. Robert Morris, associate professor of criminology and lead author of the study, which was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE. “In fact, we found some evidence of decreasing rates of some types of violent crime, namely homicide and assault.”
To save a click or two, let's cut to the chase. In deep fiscal crisis, Illinois spent more than $200,000,000 in 2010 enforcing the law against marijuana possession. Enforcement has grown nearly 30% over the decade from 2001 to 2010. Nearly 60% of those arrested are black, despite use rates no higher than whites. Almost 98% of all marijuana arrests were for possession (although prosecutors often trump up charges with the nebulous "intent to deliver.") Illinois has a racial disparity in marijauna arrests that ranks 4th highest of the 50 states, with blacks more than 7.5 times as likely as whites to be arrested for marijuana.
Illinois is a national disgrace.
The New York Times Editorial Board
It was outrageous enough when two successive presidents papered over the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of illegal detention, rendition, torture and fruitless harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. Now, the head of the Senate intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein, has provided stark and convincing evidence that the C.I.A. may have committed crimes to prevent the exposure of interrogations that she said were “far different and far more harsh” than anything the agency had described to Congress.
by Harry Belafonte
There is a crisis that demands our urgent attention. For the last four decades, this country has been obsessed with expanding the number of people we throw behind bars and the length of time we hold them there. Crime rates have been falling for the last 20 years, but still we have a massive and unsustainable prison population, particularly targeting the poor and powerless. We're not strengthening communities, we're using our criminal justice system to throw away certain people's lives – disproportionately the lives of Black and brown men, women, and children. This has decimated communities around the nation and it's gone on for far too long.
by Norman Solomon
International law is suddenly very popular in Washington. President Obama responded to Russian military intervention in the Crimea by accusing Russia of a “breach of international law.” Secretary of State John Kerry followed up by declaring that Russia is “in direct, overt violation of international law.”
Unfortunately, during the last five years, no world leader has done more to undermine international law than Barack Obama. He treats it with rhetorical adulation and behavioral contempt, helping to further normalize a might-makes-right approach to global affairs that is the antithesis of international law.
Fifty years ago, another former law professor, Senator Wayne Morse, condemned such arrogance of power. “I don’t know why we think, just because we’re mighty, that we have the right to try to substitute might for right,” Morse said on national TV in 1964. “And that’s the American policy in Southeast Asia—just as unsound when we do it as when Russia does it.”