Chicago May Decriminalize Marijuana – In Small Amounts

Marijuana may soon be decriminalized in Chicago. The powers that be in the Windy City are expected to vote on decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana later today. If the proposal is passed, America’s third-largest city will simply write a ticket for individuals possessing 15 grams or less of marijuana instead of placing the cannabis fan in handcuffs, according to Reuters. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the marijuana decriminalization efforts and believes it would increase revenue while allowing law enforcement officers to spend their time focusing on more serious crimes.

In 2011 Chicago made 18,298 arrests for marijuana possession of less than 10 grams, police department statistic excerpts republished by Reuters note. Each marijuana arrest typically involved four police officers – two to transport and two handling the initial detainment. The lost officer street time and the fiscal burden of marijuana possession arrests have taken a toll on the city. Keeping more police officers available to deal with the 37 percent hike in Chicago’s murder rate appears to be a top priority for city officials, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Should the Chicago City Council approve the marijuana decriminalization ordinance, the fine for the possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis is expected to range from $100 to $500. Current Chicago laws mandate individuals caught with pot be charged with a misdemeanor, come to court and be sentenced to a possible six months in jail and receive a $1,500 fine, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Major cities with similar marijuana decriminalization measures include Pittsburgh, Seattle, Champaign, Illinois, Philadelphia, Madison Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. A total of 17 states have legalized medical marijuana with a handful of others considering changes to laws governing cannabis possession.