The Chicago City Council today voted by an overwhelming margin of 43-3 in favor of a new ordinance to reduce the penalty for simple marijuana possession. The ordinance makes it possible for police to issue only a citation punishable with a simple fine and/or community service. The policy change is expected to go into effect in the very near future. From NBC Chicago:
The new policy gives police the option to issue a ticket for possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less. Arrests would still be mandated for anyone caught smoking pot in public or possessing marijuana in or near a school or in or near a park
Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who introduced the proposal last fall, called it a “monumental ordinance” that will have “a definite impact.” [...]
Under the plan, anyone caught with pot under the age of 17 or without proper identification would still be arrested. Tickets would range from $250 to $500. A portion of that money, Emanuel said, would be earmarked for an anti-drug campaign aimed at kids.
The new ordinance moved remarkably quickly through the city council after it was endorsed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this month.
The change is expected to save the city money and significantly reduce police hours currently wasted on processing people arrested for minor marijuana violations. This should free up police to focus their efforts on much more serious issues like violent crime.
With just under three million residents, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States and contains more people than 15 of the 50 United States. This makes the decriminalization of marijuana within its borders an important achievement for the broader marijuana reform movement.