Kathie Kane-Willis | Chicago Reader

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Re: “New Illinois law defines ‘stoned driving’

We, at the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University, have an issue with the term "a lot" when referring to 10 grams of cannabis. Ten grams is slightly over a quarter of an ounce. Most decriminalized states have limits of two ounces or so. So ten grams represents about 1/6 of a typical decriminalization amount. It is a SMALL amount, just over a quarter ounce. It is not A LOT of cannabis, it is a small amount of cannabis.

Perhaps it was unintentional, but the picture makes that 10 grams in the solo cup look like more than it is when it is laying across the bottom of a bag. We cannot determine the size of the cup from the picture - it is 16 oz, 12 oz or 9 oz? Using a larger cup would yield a different picture. Most people don't buy their cannabis in solo cups so this is an usual way to present that concept. To put it in another way, 10 grams is 10 sugar packets. Is that "a lot?" Or 10 grams represents 1/10 of a stick of butter, is that "a lot?" Obviously the density of those items differ, but the point is that 10 grams is a small amount, in fact the Chicago ordinance provided tickets for up to 15 grams of cannabis.

The idea that this amount would be more than a recreational user would carry doesn't address how people purchase and use drugs. While it might be true that most individuals wouldn't carry around 10 grams of cannabis for a party, however at the point of purchase one might buy more. Our experience is that many individuals purchase cannabis in larger quantities, consider this the "Costco effect." It is cheaper to purchase an ounce of cannabis than to purchase it by the gram.

The misdemeanor threshold in Illinois is below 30 grams, which is one of the most restrictive in the nation, so Illinois is not progressive when it comes to our drug laws. The mention of "a lot" makes it appear that Illinois is more progressive than it is, which is a shame. The Reader has done an excellent job of reporting the consequences including the racial disparity of those who are arrested for low level cannabis possession and the attendant consequences. We applaud this work heartily.

The Reader has a long standing history of supporting drug policy reform so "a lot" in italics is a bit of disappointment to us here at the Consortium, considering your publications stance on these issues. If we expect to move to more rational drug policies we need to ensure that our allies represent these issues clearly and honestly.

Kathie Kane-Willis (director)
Scott Metzger
Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy at Roosevelt University

9 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Kathie Kane-Willis on 08/03/2016 at 12:16 PM

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