“I bought the Chicagoist just to run you racist bitches out of business.”
Dear Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, I usually don’t listen when you have anything to say. When you appear on any of my screens I simple either turn to a new channel or skip to the next video. Once I saw you shaking the hands of commuters at the Garfield Redline Station like niggas like you, I walked around your very small frame and kept it pushing towards the platform, opting out of faking a handshake. Even your announced resignation fell flat on deaf ears. My ears.
But you got my attention when you said you were in favor of legalizing marijuana in conjunction with plans to open a casino and allocating the tax revenue to state pension debt. I finally listened. Then I re-winded it and
Over the last decade, you’ve been back and forth about marijuana legalization, but since it increasingly becoming accepted as harmless recreation and helpful medicine you want to embrace its economic benefits for your “suggested” agenda.
- In 2012, you oversaw Chicago City Council’s ruling to decriminalize marijuana possession for small amounts. Instead of arrests being made and jail time being served, $250-$500 tickets will be issued. Police would still have the legal authority to either arrest or ticket people. Giving officers the state-sanctioned freedom to continue racial bias in enforcing marijuana laws.
- In 2014, you campaigned against recreational legalization but for state legislature to decriminalize cannabis statewide. You don’t, “think you should balance the budget by promoting recreational smoking of pot.”
- In 2016, legislature finally decriminalized possession of fewer than ten grams, making it a fine of $100 to $500.
Attempting to cut Chicago’s $28 billion public-pension debt before leaving office is an admirable ambition and a good use of your time, Mr. Mayor. It’s just that revenue from marijuana legalization belongs to the communities its prohibition destroyed. Rebuild communities most devastated by the drug war and its emphasis on the education and incarceration of young people of color by devoting financial resources to programs that offer a new start.
Convictions for marijuana offenses aren’t just another contribution to the prison population. They aren’t just a waste of police resources. They aren’t just a drain taxpayers are funneling their money into. It’s a practice that has led to loss of freedom, employment, public benefits, housing, and student loans and financial aid. Without access to these resources, stability is hard to obtain. Your clear focus on where revenue should be directed without mention of hard-hit communities is offensive.
According to you, “resources can and should be used to further solidify our pensions,” and I agree. We do need meaningful pension reform, just not with funds generated from legalizing recreational marijuana. If the obligation is to make “Chicago a destination for economic growth by investing in our future,” then invest in our future by funding programs that offer equity, restorative justice, job and economic development, mental health, and legal services.
Every political conversation about legalizing marijuana should include a plan to strengthen communities disproportionately harmed by it being illegal in the first place.