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Council member pushes for residents to have safe places to smoke marijuana

BLOOMINGTON (WJBC) — A Bloomington City Council member believes people might not have safe places to legally smoke marijuana if government leaders ban consumption in areas where pot might be sold.

Our news partner WJBC reports proposed ordinances in Bloomington and Normal would require users to smoke pot in private, and not at businesses that sell it.

However, Council member Jenn Carrillo said people who don’t own their homes might have nowhere to go if landlords prohibit marijuana on their property.

“Those of us who rent, and those of us who are in public housing are going to face a significant number of restrictions,” Carrillo said in a video she posted on her Facebook page.

Carrillo sees this as a social justice issue, especially if people are forced to smoke in public.

“It’s a problem that is not on everybody’s radar,” said Carrillo.

“I think people are thinking about it like a very frivolous issue, but this will actually allow there to continue to be criminalization of people around a substance that is now going to become legal,” Carrillo said.

Carrillo is speaking out before the Bloomington Planning Commission holds a public hearing on Wednesday.

Carrillo persuaded the city council to create a task force, which voted seven-to-three to recommend the council permit cannabis-related businesses to serve recreational users.

Meantime, Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal released a statement on the cannabis issue Monday night.

The group is calling on the planning commission to come up with a proposal maximizing opportunity for minority enterprise, increasing public revenue, and repairing damage inflicted on minorities by the “failed and brutal” war on drugs.

“Generations of disproportionate enforcement, sentencing, and incarceration for cannabis has lead to separated families, community instability, exacerbated poverty, as well as hiring and housing discrimination and civic exclusion,” Black Lives Matter said in a statement.

“The new law seeks to address some of the damage done by generations of oppressive, racist policy with built-in expungement provisions that seek to work with law enforcement to identify cannabis related arrests in recent years, and expunge the records of an estimated 800,000 people,” the organization said.

“We will continue speaking out to ensure that the tired narratives of oppressive past do not talk over the opportunities for healing and growth in our future,” the local Black Lives Matter chapter said.

The planning commission’s public hearing is scheduled for 4 p.m. Wednesday at Bloomington City Hall. The commission might be ready to make a recommendation to the city council at that meeting.

Drew Veskauf

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