With a vote upcoming, let’s gauge the reaction to the proposed Chicago decrim. Writing in the Chicago Tribune we find Kathie Kane-Willis, who says,
“If we enact tickets for marijuana possession, doesn’t that send the wrong message to our kids? Don’t alternative sanctions, like pot tickets, increase marijuana use? The answer to these questions, reveled through an exhaustive survey of the literature, is simply no. Research demonstrates that no relationship exists between penalty structure and drug use.
“Initiation to marijuana use — that is, use by new users — or increased use by current users, does not occur when alternative sanctions, like tickets, are enacted. Demand for drugs does not go up. This is supported by a number of highly respected researchers, including Peter H. Reuter, from RAND Corporation. In fact, Reuter found that in states where decriminalization had already occurred, most people were unaware that marijuana was decriminalized. Drug use trends are long and complex. They simply don’t respond to changes in penalties.
. . .
“One of the ways that we can truly reduce youth drug use is to use the money generated by those pot tickets is to target it towards prevention. I’m not talking about “Just Say No” or “Red-Ribbon” prevention, but prevention that is evidenced-based. Meaning, it’s been evaluated and actually works. That kind of prevention does exist, and we need to be using more of it.
“Another way that we can reduce demand for drug use is to use some of those pot ticket revenues and target them towards treatment. Treatment, in Illinois, has been hit by funding cuts, and treatment has been proven to reduce demand for drugs. If we were to use the revenues for evidenced-based prevention efforts and expand access to treatment, the pot ticket could actually reduce demand for marijuana. The kids could be more than alright. The kids could be better off with the passage of a pot ticket.
There’s more to this story here. This includes citations for the claims made in the letter — that’s impressive. The prevailing winds look favorable in Chicago. HMJ is following this story, even though it is short of re-legalization. Baby steps, yes?
[image: Google images Chicago]