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Chicago aldermen back marijuana decriminalization proposal

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CHICAGO (Reuters) – A group of Chicago aldermen plan to introduce an ordinance at a Wednesday city council meeting that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Supporters say the measure would help raise revenue for the city, save money and free up police to pursue more serious crimes.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said the city’s 23,000 annual arrests for small amounts of marijuana cost the county $80 million a year, even though 90 percent of the cases are thrown out.

“At a time when the city is searching for ways to maximize the resources of the police, it doesn’t make sense to lose 80,000 man-hours a year for cases that are being dismissed,” Fritchey said.

If the plan passes, people caught in Chicago with 10 grams or less of marijuana would get a $200 ticket, instead of facing a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in prison.

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Fourteen states and some U.S. municipalities, including Seattle, Washington, have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, a lobbying group working to legalize the drug.

“There’s nothing aberrational about what Chicago is trying to do,” said St. Pierre.

He said the recession is one reason marijuana reforms have become more popular, because of the amount of money local governments have to spend on enforcement.

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Opponents of decriminalization believe it normalizes drug use, said Amy Ronshausen, manager of congressional and legislative affairs for the Drug Free America Foundation.

“If you’re normalizing drug use, it means users are going to use it more,” said Ronshausen. “It’s not as harmless as the pro-drug lobby would have you believe.”

She said decriminalization also results in loss of opportunity for intervention.

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St. Pierre said Ohio decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana in the 1970s, and people there did not as a result use the drug more than the rest of the country.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was not immediately available for comment regarding the decriminalization proposal.

Chicago Alderman Proco “Joe” Moreno, a supporter of the proposed ordinance, said in a Huffington Post editorial that anti-marijuana laws are used against minorities in Chicago more than whites, though whites use the drug as much as African-Americans and Latinos.

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White supremacists accounted for majority of terror-related arrests in last year: FBI director

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FBI Director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday that his agency has so far made roughly 100 terrorism-related arrests so far this fiscal year -- and the majority of them are related in some way to the white supremacist movement.

As Washington Post reporter Matt Zapotosky reports, Wray made his remarks about white supremacist terrorists while being questioned by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) during an appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Despite the fact that white supremacists accounted for a majority of terror-related arrests in the first three quarters of this fiscal year, however, Wray also said that the FBI still considers jihadi-inspired terrorism to be the greater overall threat.

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Florida cop runs down joy-riding black teen on bicycle — then officers shock him with a Taser

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Florida police chased down a joy-riding black teenager, struck the bicycle he was riding and then violently arrested him after he fled in terror.

Jaydon Stubbs and four friends were riding July 17 on their way to Hollywood Beach when an officer spotted the teens in an area where there had been a string of recent burglaries, reported WPLG-TV.

The officer saw the boys popping wheelies and ignoring traffic laws, so she tried to stop them for questioning -- but they split up and rode away from her.

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Here’s how Boris Johnson is already shaping up to be Britain’s Trump

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On Tuesday, Boris Johnson, former British Foreign Secretary and leader of the Conservative Party, secured the votes in Parliament to become the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

It is an outcome that was long considered likely — and it creates parallels with the 2016 election of President Donald Trump in the United States, as there are a great many similarities between the politics and styles of these two men, notes NPR.

First, and most obviously, both men are brusque right-wing populists who have made controlling immigration their core issue on the political stage — in Trump's case it is building the wall, while in Johnson's case it is implementing Brexit.

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