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Marijuana Moves Closer to Decriminalization in Chicago

Several notable locals come out in favor of easing marijuana possession laws as an ordinance to do so is readied for next week, and it feels like we’re at a tipping point.

Back in July, Mick Dumke and Ben Joravsky of the Reader wrote an excellent cover story called “The Grass Gap,” about how the vast majority of those arrested for marijuana possession in Chicago are black. It’s excellent in part because it explains how the law makes things difficult for the cops as well as the community. They followed this later with another piece on the tremendous costs of marijuana prosecution. And the two pieces, in concert, seem to have advanced the debate in the city to a significant point.

Not long afterward I added my two cents, a bit of research on the effects of marijuana busts on crime in the context of the broken-windows theory of law enforcement. Today Mary Schmich weighs in in favor of easing the city’s laws, specifically citing Dumke and Joravsky’s first piece. Alderman Joe Moreno also comes out in support of the same today, in support of Danny Solis’s forthcoming ordinance that would slap a $200 fine on ten grams or less. Cook County Commissioner and prolific Twitterer John Fritchey has been on a mini-media tour discussing decriminalization, appearing on WLS today, a press conference yesterday with Richard Mell, Ariel Reboyas, and Walter Burnett, and an appearance on Chicago Tonight. Here’s Fritchey on last night’s episode:

Watch October 27, 2011 - Marijuana Possession on PBS. See more from Chicago Tonight.

Yesterday Garry McCarthy stated his support for the general idea behind Solis’s ordinance. And while I’m loathe to cite typically reactionary newspaper comment threads as evidence of anything, the comments at the Tribune I read the other day were surprisingly moderate and in favor of softening the laws.

The vote is Wednesday, and while it’s not a sure thing, it feels an awful lot like we’ve hit a tipping point. Time to sort through your pot stock photos.

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