Supporters of marijuana legalization gathered and marched through downtown Chicago on May 2, carrying signs that read, “Free the Weed.”
The Chicago Global Cannabis March was organized by Illinois chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or, NORML. The rally and march started at noon and took place at Daley Plaza, where guest speakers called for cannabis to be taxed, regulated and legalized for both medicinal and recreational use.
Maryann Loncar, president of Mother Earth Holistic Health and CEO of Patient’s Health Center, said her organization worked tirelessly on Illinois’ 2013 medical marijuana law, which was signed by former Gov. Pat-Quinn on Aug. 1, 2013.
Loncar does not plan to stop there; she said she wants to pass laws that include decriminalization, tax and regulation on recreational cannabis.
“We need help, there are only five of us down there passing this legislation,” Loncar said. “We were relentless. What we did was nonstop calling our legislators.”
Under the current bill, medical marijuana is strictly regulated.
There are to be only 22 cultivation centers and they must be 2,500 feet away from day care centers and schools. The law calls for no more than 60 dispensaries throughout the state and buyers can only purchase 2.5 ounces every 14 days.
Representative Robert F. Martwick, D-19th, attended the march and rally.
“With decriminalization what we’ve done is we’ve said in a certain extent that it’s OK to have it, but we said it’s still illegal to buy it,” Martwick said.
“It makes no sense to allow the possession unless you are going to legalize, regulate and tax the sale of marijuana.”
Kathie-Kane Willis, interim director at the Institute for Metropolitan Affairs at Roosevelt University and director of the Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, spoke in favor of full legalization as sees it as a social justice issue
“When I was looking at who goes to prison I didn’t see marijuana offenders going to prison, right,” Willis said. “So, it took me a while to connect the dots between marijuana prohibition and human rights and human justice issues.”
Willis said for every white person arrested on marijuana possession charges, there are 16 African-Americans arrested on similar charges.
“That is unjust and unfair,” she said.
Ali Nagib, assistant director of Illinois NORML, said in a news release “We’re glad to be out on Daley Plaza for another year of celebrating the progress we’ve made in cannabis policy reform on the state and federal level and continuing our push to end the prohibition of this plant once and for all.”
Alyssa Gail Bobiles-Martin, a Columbia College Chicago student also attended the march. She said she supports medical marijuana because she has seen first hand how it can benefit those who are suffering.
Martin previously attended a convention where she met children as young as 2 years old who were benefiting from the use of medicinal marijuana.
“They were diagnosed with epilepsy and cancer and they went to Colorado,” she said.
“They had to move there to get their cannabis oil. So, that really moved me and it made me be like, OK this is a real problem.”