CN March 22, 2012

In case you weren’t sure where Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle stands on the issue of decriminalizing the possession of small quantities of marijuana – here’s what she says on today’s show.

“So I’m 65 years old. I’m gonna run for re-election in this job, I don’t have any other ambitions. So I can say what I believe is right. And what I believe is right is that our drug policies are crazy.  And that what we’re doing is destroying the lives of our kids, our very young people in the African American community, and spending an incredible amount of money on a stupid policy”.

Further, she says, “The War on Drugs is a failure”, adding that ” I’m in public life.  You take incremental steps in the direction you want to go. And decriminalization is where we’re going. At least that’s where I’m going. ”

Preckwinkle also points out that the United States, with its 300-plus million pople, is one-fifth of the world’s population. But 25% of all the people in the world locked up in jail or prison – are Americans. And as we’ve seen, large numbers of these imprisoned populations got there for drug offenses.

Ben Joravsky’s also on the show, and he reasserts some of the stunning numbers he and Mick Dumke have been publishing in the Reader as part of their series on marijuana laws. It’s highly-recommended reading.

For example, marijuana is believed to be used at similar rates across racial groups, yet African-Americans account for 78 percent of those arrested, 89 percent of those convicted, and 92 percent of those jailed for low-level possession in Chicago. Incredibly, the ratio among those who plead or are found guilty is (black-to-white) 40 to 1.

In other news, was it awkward for the President to pick up the phone, as she did yesterday, to congratulate Dorothy Brown on her decisive re-election as Clerk of the Circuit Court, despite Preckwinkle’s enthusiastic support for Brown’s opponent? “well, yea,” she admits.

But to Carol Marin, who said of the President in yesterday’s column: “You don’t endorse if you don’t also intend to win. And there is a danger in spreading yourself too thin.” – Toni Preckwinkle responds this way: “If the only criticism she has of me is that I’m loyal to people who I think would be good and talented elected officials I’ll take that shot.”

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About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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