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Gavel, symbol of judicial decisions and justice

A West Side man who had been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty after posting an online video of him blowing marijuana smoke into a pet chameleon’s mouth has been acquitted by a Cook County judge.

Bruce Blunt, 40 (whose last name has been met with amusement by many online audiences), said that the marijuana seemed to calm the sometimes aggressive behavior of his chameleon, Binna. But the video prompted a complaint from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to Chicago authorities.

Prosecutors argued that Blunt had abused the pet, since marijuana can cause quite a bit of harm to small animals.

But after watching the video, Judge Robert Kuzas said that while Blunt’s actions were “really, really uncalled for and immature,” they didn’t actually appear to cause suffering.

Blunt is now hoping he can get Binna back from city care. “The [PETA] people, they really did a number on me, calling me a jerk … and saying I’m abusing animals,” Blunt told the media after the trial. “Man, if they only knew. I’ve never hurt an animal in my life — I take in stray cats and dogs. I love animals, man.”

Marijuana Policy in Illinois
Illinois currently has a fledgling medical marijuana program in place, and on May 22, the state senate passed a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession. It will probably be heading to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for a signature after the language in the bill has been slightly adjusted.

If signed into law, the bill would make possession of less than 15 grams of marijuana punishable by a simple fine, rather than arrest.

To date, 17 other states have decriminalized possession of similarly small amounts. Only four states — Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington — have actually legalized retail marijuana approved for recreational use.

Sen. Michael Noland (D-Elgin), a sponsor of the latest bill, says that he doesn’t personally condone marijuana use, but he is concerned about criminal records ruining people’s personal and employment prospects for their entire lives.

“I would encourage the children of this state and my own children to abstain from the use of the substance, but people do use this, and it should not be something that ruins social lives and professional lives as well,” he was quoted as saying by the Chicago Tribune.

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