Chicago Aldermen Support Ticketing, Not Arresting Low-Level Marijuana Offenders


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Jun 21, 2007
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Four Chicago lawmakers on Thursday are expected to announce their support of ticketing individuals caught with small amounts of marijuana in Cook County rather than arresting them.

Their call for ticketing possessors of small amounts of pot, reported by NBC Chicago, echoes a similar suggestion made by Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle this summer. After calling the "war on drugs" a failure, she said the idea would reduce the county's inmate population, both saving money and potentially stymying future crime. Preckwinkle has floated the idea to Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and his department was reportedly looking into the issue as of this summer.

Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey (D-12th) on Thursday joins Ald. Richard Mell (33rd), Walter Burnett (27th) and Ariel Reboyras (30th) in calling for police and law enforcement in the county to begin issuing tickets for low-level marijuana offenders, according to a press release reported by Center Square Journal.

"The simple truth is that the decades-long policies that we have had toward possession of small amounts of marijuana have failed to do anything other than fill our jails with non-violent offenders, strain our budgets, and according to some studies, even cause an increase in more serious crime," Fritchey said in a statement.

Earlier this month, the Chicago Reader reported that Cook County spent at least $78 million each year arresting, prosecuting, and jailing people for possession of marijuana.

The idea is not new. In 2009, Cook County Commissioner Earlean Collins (D-Chicago) introduced an ordinance allowing county sheriffs to write tickets for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana, instead of automatically arresting them. Though that ordinance was quietly approved by the Cook County Board, it was never implemented, according to the Chicago Tribune. Former Mayor Richard M. Daley also reportedly considered the idea in 2004.



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Jun 2, 2011
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Chicago pot smokers may soon be able to light up without fear of jail time Several Windy City councilmen said Thursday they plan to introduce a local law that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in order to cut costs and free up police to handle more serious crimes.
Chicago police make about 23,000 arrests each year for possession of the drug, a misdemeanor which nevertheless carries stiff punishment of up to six months in jail, a $1,500 fine and a criminal record.
Under the new law set to be introduced next week, people caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana would instead face a $200 fine and up to 10 hours of community service.
Marijuana has already been downgraded to a lesser offense in several Chicago suburbs and areas of Cook County patrolled by the sheriff's department.
Some 11 US states have also decriminalized possession of small amounts of pot and 18 states allow its use for medical purposes, according to the pro-marijuana group NORML.
Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs US taxpayers $10 billion and results in the arrests of 853,000 people a year, NORML said.
Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey told reporters that the proposed law makes sense.
"It is not time to act tough on crime; it is (time) to be smart on crime. We need our resources spent somewhere else," he said.


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