Timed to correspond with the introduction of several new key pieces of legislation in Illinois, we investigated the relative effectiveness of the US-led international war on drugs and other types of approaches to the use and misuse of psychoactive substances. This is one of the most widespread and yet least visible social justice challenges facing Chicago today – while the vast majority of those incarcerated in county facilities are in for nonviolent drug offences, many of those needing access to help for addiction do not seek it due to fear of legal reprisals.