Columns / Discourse / January 15, 2014

Changes to pot legislation impact Galesburg: Opening the floodgates to illegal activity

The trend in the United States is overwhelmingly trending toward the legalization of marijuana. Galesburg is no exception.

The Galesburg City Council has passed an amendment to the Municipal Code. Today, that means  that the city has taken a radical step to make punishments for the possession of marijuana less severe.

In summary, with the passage of the modification to the Galesburg Municipal Code taking effect, “a police officer [will] be given two options when encountering someone with small amounts of cannabis: either an arrest or issuing an administrative citation (a fine of $300). This modification [will] only apply to those holding 2.5 grams or less.”

Perhaps the relaxing of cannabis law is a financial move?

Well, let’s look at the numbers. In 2013, there were 68 arrests for marijuana possession under the 2.5 gram threshold.

If the officer on duty decides to issue the proposed $300 fine in every instance and if the person in possession complied and paid the fine in a timely manner — two feats that seem quite unlikely to happen each time — the city of Galesburg would receive a mere $20,400.

Although this may seem like quite the sum of money, the city’s expenditures totaled $89,455,690 in 2013. I’m not a math major, but I do believe that the potential maximum revenue from this proposal would have amounted to .02 percent of the city’s expenditures. Simply put, this change in legislation will raise a trivial amount of funds for the city of Galesburg.

We’ve already established that this proposal will hardly aid Galesburg financially, but how will it affect Knox and its student body?

I highly doubt that this amendment will drastically alter the lives of Knox students or have any effect on the type of students that are attracted to Knox.
However, I am concerned about what may come next. The passage of this amedment may act as the catalyst for the all-out legalization of marijuana in the state of Illinois.

That is not to say that because this amendment was approved that full-scale legalization is the next step. However, it’s much cleaner and easier to take a firm stand on this foggy issue.

Marijuana is an illegal substance and should be treated as such by the Galesburg police department. Loosening the penalty for possession of this illegal drug is the first step in the process of eliminating the penalty altogether.

Ultimately, this proposal should not have been approved. Without even entering a discussion of the moral implications of legalizing marijuana, this legislative change offers nominal assistance to the city of Galesburg while potentially opening the floodgates to more and more illegal activity.

As for Knox, I would not be all too concerned with this specific change.

However, I believe anyone with an interest in the future of Knox should follow this change — and any potential changes that follow — quite closely.

Charlie Harned

Tags:  ammendment arrest cannabis City Council court decriminalization marijuana policy pot vice revenue

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1 Comment

Jan 19, 2014

In 1990, Illinois enacted a 13 year long moratorium (ban) on private prisons. The one virtue of our state is that we do not allow human rights violations within our borders like those that happen within the halls of the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), America’s largest private prison. Private prisons operate in 2/3s of the states. Search the ACLU’s report on Idaho’s “Gladiator School” where guards of a private prison
stood by and watched as one inmate beat another half to death. That never happens in public prisons. Private prisons like the CCA write model bills, like mandatory minimums for drug crimes, to increase their profits. Now that our ban on private prisons has expired, they would be eager to “save money” for the state by buying up our prisons.

Marijuana is a non-violent offense that should not entail criminal penalties, particularly since studies have shown that time spent in private prisons like the CCA make people more violent. If smoking marijuana is unhealthy, then it should be treated, not punished. Like alcohol and smoking tobacco, marijuana is a public health issue.

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