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Preckwinkle Supports Legalizing Marijuana In Illinois

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- State lawmakers heard an earful from both sides at a Monday hearing on legalizing recreational use of marijuana.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle told lawmakers she supports legalization because, right now, law enforcement focuses a disproportionate amount of energy on pot smokers in black and brown communities.

"Rarely do we see white college students, or young professionals, suburban high school students or their prosperous parents, arrested or detained for the use or possession of marijuana," Preckwinkle said at a House-Senate public health hearing on legalizing marijuana in Illinois.

However Andy Duran, the Executive Director of LEAD (Linking Efforts Against Drugs), pointed to Colorado, which has legalized cannabis, and says that problem isn't solved.

"According to the Colorado Department of Public Safety, from March 2016, arrests related to marijuana decreased eight percent among white youth, increased by 29 percent among Hispanic youth, and increased 58 percent among black youth," he said.

Duran added that Colorado's legalization of marijuana has only increased social disparities. As a result, lawmakers say they are treading carefully.

This was the fourth hearing convened by State Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and State Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), who are sponsoring this legislation.

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