Morning Spin: Question about legalizing marijuana could go on Cook County ballots

By: Hal Dardick, Chicago Tribune

Cook County commissioners on Wednesday will decide whether to put on the ballot a question asking voters if recreational marijuana use by people 21 and older should be legalized.

The referendum is advisory only, so weed would not become legal if the question is approved in the March 20 primary. But a strong showing could help state lawmakers make their case for marijuana legalization in Springfield.

Commissioner John Fritchey proposed the referendum measure amid October’s repeal of the county’s controversial soda pop tax. He contends legalizing and taxing marijuana would be a way to reform the county criminal justice system and provide a source of money for the county that’s far superior to the pop tax he opposed.

County Board President Toni Preckwinkle quickly backed the marijuana referendum measure idea, and 11 commissioners are now listed as co-sponsors. That means its approval is likely when the 17-member board holds its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday.

The board also is expected to approve an ordinance to ban sexual harassment by county officials and workers, and require those folks, plus county lobbyists, to take a yearly sexual harassment training course. (Hal Dardick)