Chicago’s Mayor Favors Marijuana Decriminalization

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director June 15, 2012

    I’ve followed with more than a passing interest the entire arch of Rahm Emanuel’s substantive and influential career in American politics.

    In fact, found in NORML’s extensive forty-two year archives are the hand-typed notes of an author who was working on a major profile of the history of America’s ‘drug war’ and what the then Clinton Administration was implementing as their drug ‘control’ policies.

    The author was former Wall Street Journal reporter Dan Baum and the book he produced is called ‘Smoke and Mirrors’. Any serious student or activist of drug and cannabis policy must include this book on their short ‘must read’ bibliographic list.ReThink the Leaf

    Baum interviewed Emanuel in 1994 in his White House office and, according to Baum’s notes, Emanuel was a tidal wave of expletives against cannabis, and most notably cannabis consumers, calling them ‘leftover hippies’ and medical patients as ‘stoners just looking for an excuse to get high’.

    How far has Mayor Emanual come on the issue of cannabis law reform?

    The significance of Rahm Emanuel’s progression on cannabis law reform can’t be understated as 1) he was the chief domestic policy advisor during the Clinton era that very actively opposed any medical cannabis reforms or decriminalization efforts at the state/federal level, 2) when he was first elected to Congress he voted against Hinchey Rohrabacher spending amendment bills which sought to limit medical cannabis law enforcement by the feds at the state level, 3) in his last years in Congress he changed positions and voted for the HR amendment, 4) during the last two years in Cook County and in other cities in IL, ‘decriminalization’ measures have either gone into effect or have been proposed without Mr. Emanuel saying “boo” and 5) now the political acknowledgement from Prague no less (talk about a city that can inspire decriminalization and personal freedom!) that he is keen on decriminalization.

    Many political pontificators believe Emanual, one of the country’s most aspiring and capable political figures, has his eyes affixed on the presidency in 2016 or 2020, and like his potential rival New York Governor and fellow democrat Andrew Cuomo who recently moved to decriminalize cannabis in NY, might rightly see that being in favor of cannabis law reform is now a political asset, not a liability.

    Update: Another clear demonstration that American society is moving towards embracing cannabis law reforms can be found in one of the least likely places on earth: The editorial board of the traditionally (almost reflexively) anti-cannabis Washington Post, who, finally, also now embraces decriminalization.

    Hmmm….the pot prohibition plot thickens!

    Emanuel backs decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana
    Chicago Sun-Times

    Staff Reporters
    Last Modified: Jun 15, 2012 05:59AM

    Mayor Rahm Emanuel is throwing his formidable support behind a plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

    If the City Council goes along, Chicago cops will be free to issue a ticket with a fine ranging from $100 to $500. The tickets would apply to people caught with 15 grams of pot or less.

    Last fall, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) proposed a ticket carrying a $200 fine and a 10-gram trigger.

    Currently, those caught with small amounts of pot face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

    In a press release, the mayor said writing pot tickets “allows us to observe the law while reducing the processing time for minor possession of marijuana — ultimately freeing up police officers for the street.”

    Emanuel chose to wade in on the hot-button issue while in Prague for his daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. That allows him to avoid questions about whether marijuana tickets would send the wrong message to kids about a drug that some consider a “gateway” to more dangerous substances.

    In 2011, Chicago Police officers made 18,298 arrests for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Read the rest of this Chicago Sun Times article here.



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