Saturday, July 30, 2016

Decriminalization – it’s about time!

For as many times as I have taken pot shots at the actions of Gov. Bruce Rauner, I feel it’s the least I can do to acknowledge that Illinois’ governor actually did something right.
RAUNER: Got something right
He did something that should have been done so many governors ago; something that will reduce much of the bureaucratic nonsense that often springs up with our police trying to protect and serve us.

I’M REFERRING TO the many arrests that have been made throughout the years related to drug possession – particularly the possession of small amounts of marijuana clearly intended for personal use.

Rauner on Friday signed into law a measure that decriminalizes the offense. It is now something about as legally lasting as a traffic ticket.

You will still get cited and face fines if the police catch you possessing pot. After all, the local governments would still want that source of income.

But the idea of someone developing a lasting criminal record from such actions will now be a thing of the past. It’s definitely not something that is going to get one locked up in jail – unless they happen to be doing something else particularly stupid at the same time as being stoned.

WHICH IS ALWAYS a possibility. So it’s probably not a good idea to rush out and get stoned. There’s still too much of a risk.

But we’re not going to have people building up criminal records for an offense that really doesn’t hurt anybody but themselves.

Just like we don’t criminalize someone who gets intoxicated on alcoholic beverages unless they do something seriously wrong while in a state of drunkenness. The intoxication itself is not a crime – or at least it hasn’t been in most of the country since the repeal of Prohibition!

I suppose this means we’re going to start having to figure out a legal standard for being stoned – how wasted can one be before it is considered to be an impairment on one’s physical abilities?

IT HAS BEEN a few decades since I was last around people who engaged in marijuana use to any serious degree. In fact, most of the people I deal with these days who are exposed to large quantities of pot are the cops who make all the drug arrests.

It just always strikes me that there are more serious offenses they ought to be concerned about fighting. Particularly in this day and age when the homicide rates are high and catching the public’s attention.

It seems that the people who are opposed to decriminalization of drug offenses (and I know they exist, because I’ve heard them erroneously argue that decriminalization and legalization are one and the same thing) are really interested in making a political statement.

They want to keep the image of marijuana use by liberal hippie freaks and no one else. As though the idea of enforcing pot possession bans is their way of penalizing people they want to blame for everything that is wrong with our society.

OF COURSE, I’VE found that drug use in the modern era spreads across people of all ideological bearings. In fact, it seems to me that the people who can most afford the cost of illicit drugs are the ones with incomes that would make them part of the conservative elite.

In short, it is as though Rauner made a point to not make a political statement when he signed into law the measure that was approved earlier this year in the General Assembly.

Where legislators from across Illinois gathered together to put together this particular legislation, which basically means police can focus their time on scouting out real crime.

I feel safer already!


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