Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wants to Decriminalize Marijuana

Friday, 15 Jun 2012 11:38 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing a proposal that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in a move intended to free up police to deal with more serious offenses, the Chicago Tribune reported Friday.
 
Under the proposed city ordinance, police would be given more discretion in deciding to ticket offenders, who could still be fined from $100 to $500 for 15 grams or less of the substance.

“When the ordinance was first introduced, I asked the Chicago Police Department to do a thorough analysis to determine if this reform balanced public safety and common-sense rules that save taxpayer dollars to reinvest in putting more officers on the street,” Emanuel said Thursday in a statement.
 
“The result is an ordinance that allows us to observe the law, while reducing the processing time for minor possession of marijuana — ultimately freeing up police officers for the street,” the former White House top aide said.

Under current law, possession of marijuana in Chicago is treated as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $1,500.
 
Citing police statistics, the Tribune reported the law last year resulted in 18,298 arrests in Chicago for less than 10 grams.
 
Each case involved up to four officers — two on the street who usually made the arrest and two who transported the violator to jail.

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