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Illinois Clergy Are a Force in Marijuana Decriminalization Debate

03 Jun Illinois Clergy Are a Force in Marijuana Decriminalization Debate

The marijuana decriminalization bill that could soon go to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk has an array of supporters, including civil libertarians, prosecutors and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

Its supporters also include clergy. Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis are lobbying lawmakers in Illinois and in states across the Northeast as part of a push toward legalization, which they see as a moral cause encompassing issues such as race, fair housing and employment.

To that end, the group, called Clergy for a New Drug Policy, is pushing for legislation to tax and regulate cannabis, refer individuals charged with drug-related crimes to treatment, eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and support medical marijuana.

“It’s a primary change if something is decriminalized,” said the Rev. Al Sharp, the Chicago pastor who launched the group this spring. “The goal is to change the culture of punishment in this country, which the war on drugs has contributed so thoroughly and so devastatingly to.” [Read more at the Chicago Tribune]

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