Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked state legislators yesterday to soften Illinois' war on drugs, letting non-violent offenders off the hook to free police officers to focus on more serious crimes, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The political response was lukewarm. Emanuel wants the General Assembly to go beyond what he did in Chicago with disappointing results by decriminalizing possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana and reducing from a felony to a misdemeanor the penalty for possession of one gram or less of any controlled substance.
“Thirteen other states already have laws on the books similar to what I'm proposing and there is no higher rate of drug [use] in these states as a result,” Emanuel said. “It's time to free up our resources for truly violent offenders who pose a bigger threat to the safety of our communities. It's time to allow police officers throughout the state … to keep their focus where it's needed most.” Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy added: “Studies show that locking people up for an ounce of narcotics does not dissuade them from using narcotics. It's almost an exercise in futility.”