Chicago Decriminalizes Small Amounts of Marijuana

Thursday, 28 Jun 2012 10:39 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Chicago has joined with other big cities and states across the country in decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana, clearing the way for charges to be dropped against many of the 18,000 people arrested in the city over the past year for possession of the drug.
 
The vote Wednesday by the City Council to impose fines of up to $500 for possession of 15 grams or less of the drug — instead of making arrests — is also expected to generate millions in additional revenue and free up police to focus more attention on other crimes and public safety issues, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Put in perspective, the new marijuana ordinance, which takes effect Aug. 4, will allow people to possess “the equivalent of about 25 cigarette-sized joints” without fear of going to jail, the Tribune reported.

But police will still continue to arrest suspected pot dealers, users younger than 17, and anyone caught lighting up in parks or on school grounds.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel insisted the new ordinance makes sense because most of the cases brought before the court are thrown out anyway.

“I don’t want to be paying for these officers time and a half to sit in a courtroom for four hours on something that 80 to 90 percent of the time will be thrown out and everybody, both the residents and police officers, and judges, already knows the outcome,” he said.

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