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Preckwinkle: Reagan deserves 'special place in hell' for war on drugs

Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Monique Garcia

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle today said former President Ronald Reagan deserves “a special place in hell” for his role in the war on drugs.

Preckwinkle, a staunch advocate of decriminalizing pot, made the comment about Reagan, who died in 2004, during a conference led by former Republican Gov. Jim Edgar at the University of Illinois Institute of Government and Public Affairs in Urbana-Champaign.

Preckwinkle was defending the recent move by city officials to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, saying out of whack drug laws unfairly lead to more minorities behind bars.

Republican state Rep. Chapin Rose questioned whether such an approach includes drug treatment for those who are ticketed. Preckwinkle said no, arguing that drug treatment should be part of health care system, not criminal justice. She said Reagan deserves a "special place in hell" for his involvement in "making drug use political."

"What? You didn't like that?" Preckwinkle said after members of the audience gasped.

Preckwinkle was speaking at a luncheon called "The Opportunities and Responsibilities of Public Service" on one of several panels taking place as part of the Edgar Fellows program, which aims to foster cooperation among policy makers of different parties and backgrounds.

Preckwinkle, a former Chicago alderman elected county board president in 2010, has been vocal about her support for stopping low level marijuana arrests. The Democrat had not been known for framing the issue in such harsh terms, however.

This summer, the Chicago City Council voted to allow police to write tickets instead of make arrests for small amount of pot possession. The ordinance took effect earlier this month.

 



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