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Chicago, IL (PRWEB) June 30, 2012

The Chicago City Council voted 43-3 Wednesday to ticket and not arrest adults possessing up to 15 grams of herbal cannabinoids (cannabis); teens are still to be arrested. The decriminalization law replaces an arrest and misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1500 fine with a $250 to $500 ticket. The change in policy is supported by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and takes effect August 4th.

Chicago Alderman Danny Solis (25th) championed changing the old policy by citing the disproportionate number of minorities arrested for cannabis possession. In coverage Wednesday, the Chicago Sun-Times also reported Solis’ concern for saddling “young people with a criminal record that could haunt them for years.”

Chicago Alderman Edward M. Burke (14th), who at first was a vocal opponent of the proposed law, changed his mind due to disparate arrest numbers and voted for decriminalization. Burke, who is white, is the foster father of an African American teen; the Sun-Times noted Burke became a supporter of the new law after learning “that of the 20,603 arrests last year for small amounts of marijuana, 15,862 were African American.”

Burke highlighted justice as a factor in his vote: “Just as I don’t want to send the wrong message to kids, I also don’t want it to be the case that young Walter or young Travis [his foster son] is 16 times more likely to be locked up than some kid from Sauganash or Beverly [Chicago neighborhoods].”

Steve Young, a member of Publius and author of Maximizing Harm: Losers and Winners in the War on Drugs (2000), resides in suburban Chicago, is married and raising two teens. He echoed the concerns of Solis and Burke for minorities: “It’s great to see the debate move forward; in writing The Cannabis Papers, our inspiration for essay #31, Drugism/Racism (attached), came from Michelle Alexander’s book The New Jim Crow: mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness (2009). She points out that once you are labeled a felon by the drug war, then all the old forms of discrimination become legal – which has created a new Jim Crow situation.”

Young noted the political discussion has not yet moved toward the cannabinoid system and America’s classrooms: “In essay #23, Think of the Children: Prohibition Creates Crime … and Obesity (attached), we discuss the health implications concerning the absence of a cannabinoid curriculum in our educational institutions; those implications include such diseases as type 2 diabetes and obesity – both of which are threats to America’s youth.”

Young considers the change in policy as a healthy development for Chicago: “Because of the war on pot – or as Publius would say, the war on herbal cannabinoids – the disproportionate minority arrests for cannabis have gone largely unnoticed; not here though, Chicago noticed.”

The book is available at Amazon, Lulu and other online book retailers.

For more information about The Cannabis Papers, visit

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