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Legalizing recreational pot could reduce crime and make us safer

A marijuana plant at a cannabis company in Washington, where recreational pot use is legal. | Ted S. Warren/AP

A recent Sun-Times article (“Are legal pot backers blowing smoke? — May 9) questioning the revenue benefits of legalizing recreational cannabis misses the forest for the trees. We’ve said all along that legalizing adult-use cannabis is not a panacea that will solve all of Illinois’ budget problems.

This issue earned our support for many reasons, but the promise of money is not what brought us here. We’re supporting this policy shift because perpetuating a failed system is not a solution we can get behind.

The point of this legislation has never been to solely focus on adding funding to the state’s coffers. We’ve crafted a system that would provide valuable funding to support education, communities that have been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs and law enforcement training. And yes, some money would support the general revenue fund.

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Despite being a small fraction of the budget, Colorado was able to devote more than $90 million dollars to education and school building projects from just one year of recreational marijuana taxes. Additionally, in Colorado, resources are now available to law enforcement and to regulators.

We can do that here in Illinois. We have an opportunity to create a safe and legal market where lab-tested products are sold in well-lit stores that pay taxes to support our communities. We have a chance to cut into the black market and make our streets safer.

Legalization isn’t pro-revenue, or even pro-marijuana. It’s pro-regulation. Voters around the country and here in Illinois are looking closely at legalization, and a clear majority now support this change. We think it’s the right decision for Illinois.

Will legalization make Illinois rich? It probably won’t. Will it reduce criminal activity and make us safer? Yes. And will it pay for important programs that are underfunded? It will do that too. And to us, that’s a bargain.

Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Illinois Sen. Heather Steans

Cops have right to protest

When teachers are dissatisfied they march in numbers. When the union truckers are displeased they shut down highways. Even radical activists and gang members filling City Hall is acceptable.

But according to the Chicago Sun-Times, the “city doesn’t need police officers staging political theater” (May 18).  Chicago Police officers do not have constitutional rights. They no longer have the right to defend themselves. They are not allowed the right of free speech.

Now the Sun-Times wants to remove their right to redress government for abuses. And there’s a question of respect! I believe you have that reversed.

Larry Casey, Forest Glen

Big news: Sox make the back page

Fire your sports editor. He’s gone and done it now. He must have been drunk because he featured a story about the White Sox on the back page of the sports section (May 18), the page reserved for the Cubs, or failing that, the Bears or the Bulls. Or golf. Or anything but the Sox. Clearly, you need to give him the hook.

Jim Morris, Evanston