In the US, there has been a trend for the formulation of flexible laws governing the use of cannabis either as a recreational drug or for medicinal purposes. The latest move, in this regard, was witnessed on Tuesday with the call of Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Mayor, on the Illinois state lawmakers. He asked them to relax the punishments for possessing marijuana.
Rahm Emanuel is making efforts to render the possession of cannabis legal in the state. He wants authorities to consider the possession of one gram or less quantity of any of the regulated substance to be a mild offence instead of a grave crime. It means, if people are caught with small quantities of the drug, like cannabis, they will not be taken into the custody of police but only given a ticket to pay fine.
Emanuel also backed the move to bring reforms in Chicago Law in 2012, and his present stance shows consistency with that. The purpose of the amendment in law was to prevent the arrests for possessing 15 gram or less quantity of marijuana but instead impose the fine ranging from $250 to $500.
Addressing a committee of Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday, the Chicago Mayer pleaded for the enforcement of such measures across the state. For bringing amendments in the state’s criminal code, the initial hearings are being conducted by the Joint Criminal Justice Reform Committee. Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Superintendent, also expressed his views on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Emanuel said that it was necessary to make the regulatory laws come in agreement with the values of Americans. He emphasized the reduction in penalties for the less serious drug-related crimes, so that the individuals seeking drug treatment would not be put behind the bars.
He was of the view that if the drug penalties were relaxed, the police would be able to divert its attention towards the more serious street crimes. Among the United States’ urban divisions, Chicago has been ranked as the highest regarding the number of murder cases.
The Chicago Tribune learned from the members of Emanuel administration that, through his plea to relax drug penalties, the mayor wants to win the favor of African-American lawmakers to enforce harder sentences for murders and the street violence.
An official, from Emanuel administration, told the Chicago Tribune that their primary concern was to bring comprehensive amendments in the law, so that more resources could be spent for the prevention of violent and grave crimes instead of utilizing them for mild and less serious offenses.
The Roosevelt University launched a survey in May to examine the enforcement of legalization ordinance. The ordinance favored the ticketing of the individuals with small quantities of marijuana instead of putting them behind the bars. In the study, the Chicago police faced criticism for its failure to implement the law in its true spirit.
The leading author of the study, Kathleen Kane-Willis, reported that in Chicago and other parts of the state, the enforcement of the pot-ticket ordinance was not only uneven and incomplete, but also it was costly. Kane-Willis further said that the state had failed to implement the marijuana policy despite the fact that the most of the Illinois residents opposed the arresting of people possessing small quantities of the drug.
According to the findings of the study, the Chicago police spent between 24,000 to 63,000 hours in 2013 in making arrests on the charges of possessing small amount of marijuana. It cost the public exchequer an amount from $25 to $116 million. The study suggests that if such arrests are reduced by half, the city can save up to $58 million. On the other hand, if only tickets are issued to the low-level offenders, it would result in the generation of $2.9 million for the city, against the considerably small amount of about $416,250 that was collected in 2013 from ticketing.
Emanuel’s struggle can be considered a part of the larger movement for the decriminalization of marijuana in the state. It is to be noted that the District of Columbia and 16 states have already legalized the cannabis possession in their domains of jurisdiction. Moreover, two other states have given the protection of law to the retail sales. These findings have been revealed by NORML, a group contributing its part in efforts for the legalization of medical marijuana.
Allen Pierre, the executive director NORML, has been reported as saying that both the Republicans and Democrats have been making efforts at the state level to bring a decrease in the number of prisoners. He adds that Emanuel’s move comes in accordance with this point of view.
Recently, CivicScience completed a survey which stretched across the span of past two years. According to it, about 58 percent of 450,000 adults supported the legalization of cannabis in their state, whereas 35 percent went against such a move.
Quite the same revelations came from the publication of the Pew Research Center in April. It said that, in 2013, 52 percent of Americans voted in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana and the number increased to 54 percent in April 2014.
The use of marijuana as a recreational drug was, first of all, legalized in the US state of Colorado. The Denver Business Journal has reported that the state would be collecting about $60 to $70 million of revenue from the legalized sales of marijuana.
If marijuana is decriminalized in all the states of the US, the country is expected to generate the revenue of over $3 billion. In this regard, California alone can collect over $500 million. This is according to the findings of a survey conducted by NerdWallet, which is a personal finance website.
As reported by the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) in 2012, about one and a half million arrests were made across the US in the year 2011. Nearly 50 percent of these were for the illegal possession of marijuana. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) launched a survey in 2010 and emerged with the findings that resembled those of FBI. The ACLU also found out that the likelihood of getting arrested for possessing marijuana was 3.73 times more for the blacks than the white Americans. On the other hand, the Roosevelt University in Illinois carried out a similar study and revealed that the chances of arresting on marijuana charges were 7.6 times more for the black Americans as compared with their white counterparts.