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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.

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“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.

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.

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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.

Mochila insert follows.

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‘Bulletproof from a pardon’: Fox News analyst says judge in Stone case just made things tough for Trump

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In the wake of Roger Stone's sentencing of 3.5 years in prison this Thursday, Fox News legal analyst Andrew Napolitano posited that U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson's choice to go along with Attorney General Bill Barr's sentencing recommendation could have been an effort to pardon-proof the sentence from President Trump.

"[Jackson's] trying to make this bulletproof from a pardon," Napolitano said. "Because she went along exactly with what [Barr] requested."

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Adam Schiff sends signal that a Roger Stone pardon would be another impeachable offense

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Rep. Adam Schiff suggested that a presidential pardon for Roger Stone would be an impeachable offense.

Judge Amy Berman Jackson sentenced the longtime Republican operative to 40 months in prison, saying Stone had lied to Congress and threatened a witness to cover up possible wrongdoing by President Donald Trump -- and Schiff sent a warning against a pardon.

"Roger Stone was found guilty of lying to Congress and threatening a witness," Schiff tweeted.

Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry and trial, agreed with Jackson -- whose language echoed the lawmaker's "corrupt scheme and cover-up" indictment during the Senate trial.

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WATCH: Roger Stone greeted with ‘Lock Him Up!’ chants after getting sentenced to 40 months

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Trump ally Roger Stone frequently led chants of "Lock her up!" about Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign -- but on Thursday, the table decisively turned.

After Stone was sentenced to 40 months in prison for charges of perjury, witness tampering, and obstruction of justice, a crowd of people greeted the right-wing dirty trickster by chanting, "Lock him up!" outside the courthouse.

At least one supporter of President Donald Trump tried to get a "pardon" chant going, but they were drowned out by the louder "Lock him up" chants.

Watch the video below.

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