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Chicago to Stop Jailing Marijuana Users?

Last year, police in Chicago arrested more than 23,000 people for simple marijuana possession, 78% of them black. But those charges are routinely dropped by judges, and the head of the Cook County Board, who is facing a serious budget gap, wants the police to knock it off.
Toni Preckwinckle
Facing a $315 million shortfall, Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced a 5% spending cut and threatened layoffs if necessary. Preckwinkle last week discussed the idea of merely ticketing pot smokers with Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and while no decision has yet been taken, the notion is percolating through the police bureaucracy.

"It's pretty well known within the criminal justice system that the judges will dismiss those charges involving very modest amounts of illicit drugs," Preckwinkle told the Chicago Sun-Times. "I suggested to McCarthy that although the law is pretty clear that such possession is a violation of the law, that since the judges routinely and almost universally dismiss such low-level drug charges that the police might stop arresting people for this since it clogs up our jail with these people and their cases will be dismissed out anyway."

This is hardly a unique foray into drug policy reform for Preckwinkle. She campaigned on a platform of less incarceration and more treatment, and just weeks ago, during an event marking the 40th anniversary of Nixon's declaration of a war on drugs, she denounced the drug war as failure.

A Chicago police spokeswoman, Maureen Biggane, told the Sun-Times McCarthy was considering Preckwinkle's suggestion. "At this time, the Chicago Police Department is reviewing the possibility of enforcement action other than physical arrest for certain cannabis offenses," she said.

By last Saturday, McCarthy was telling the Chicago Tribune he was looking into issuing citations for people arrested for small-time pot possession instead of taking them to jail and booking them, but he was eager to point out that they would still be arrested.

"We will continue to make arrests for illegal behavior, whether it's public urination or whether it's carrying a firearm. It's really that simple," McCarthy said. "We're looking at different arrest processing, not not making the arrests."

It's not a done deal yet, McCarthy said. "It's not cooked yet," he said, but added, "I think that people are going to see some changes down the road."

He may face some opposition from within the ranks. According to the Chicago Reader, some high-ranking police officials don't want to give up the ability to use pot arrests to get "gang bangers" off the streets for a few hours.

Whether the cops' ability to make mass busts of "gang bangers" whose most serious offense is possessing marijuana will win out over the Second City's need to save money in a time of austerity remains to be seen, but the battle lines are being drawn right now.

Chicago, IL
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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From the Bible

Jesus said to do unto others as we would have them to do unto us. None of us would want our child thrown in jail with the sexual predators over marijuana. None of us would want to see an older family member’s home confiscated and sold by the police for growing a couple of marijuana plants for their aches and pains. It’s time to stop putting our own family members in jail over marijuana.

If ordinary Americans could grow a little marijuana in their own back yards, it would be about as valuable as home-grown tomatoes. Let's put the criminals out of business and get them out of our neighborhoods. Let's let ordinary Americans grow a little marijuana in their own back yards.

Here's one way that IT IS REALLY WORKING: Arresting the criminals and collecting a fee from the registered growers (and bringing in thousands of dollars to support the county budget); what a great plan! This is the way to build a better America!

The current proposal before Congress, bill HR 2306, will allow states to decide how they will regulate marijuana. Email your Congressperson and Senators at and ask them to sign on as a CO-SPONSOR of HR 2306.
And a big THANK YOU to the courageous, freedom loving legislators, governors, and countless others who are working so hard to bring this through! You’re doing a great patriotic service for all of America!

Legalize Cannabis

Thank you. Its so refreshing to see another Christian, like myself, who knows the use of Cannabis is not a bad or scary thing. Cannabis was used before, during and after Christ. It is Ludacris to think Christ, or the Dr, St Luke, did not use Cannabis. Of course they did.  Exo 30:23  Take thou also unto thee principal spices, of pure myrrh five hundred shekels, and of sweet cinnamon half so much, even two hundred and fifty shekels, and of sweet calamus (Cannabis) two hundred and fifty shekels,  * As one shekel equals approximately 16.37 grams, this means that the THC from over 9 pounds of flowering cannabis tops were extracted into a hind, about 6.5 litres of oil. The entheogenic effects of such a solution -- even when applied topically -would undoubtedly have been intense. God Bless.

Screw the Bible!

It's what got us in this mess in the first place! I seriously doubt it's going to get us out. The religous among us have a defective reasoning functions in their brains. Even using their own religous documents to try and prove a point will not work because they are not reasonable people!

War is Over (If you Want it)


The War on Drugs failed $1 Trillion ago!  This money could have been used for outreach programs to clean up the bad end of drug abuse by providing free HIV testing, free rehab, and clean needles.  Harmless drugs like marijuana could be legalized to help boost our damaged economy.  Cannabis can provide hemp for countless natural recourses and the tax revenue from sales alone would pull every state in our country out of the red!  Vote Teapot, PASS IT, and legalize it.  Voice you opinion with the movement and read more on my artist’s blog at  

When you are mugged by some drunk gang banger....

...just remember all those Chicago police arresting "gang bangers'" smoking the peace pipe.

old wine new bottles

I've been reading this semi-bogus story for years. Oh, Cook county is on the cusp of throwing out weed cases etc. etc. Do the research: this is just giving crumbs to social reformers. Even Mayor Daly was talking about decrim years ago. What became of it? Nothing.Just more propaganda stories like this. Still, it's good that it's in the consciousness of people. Let's keep up the preasure on Cook county!

Here's your chance,Chicago

To refuse to pay these fines and demand that you go to jail.That is exactly what they are trying to prevent.Don't give them the option.A few days in jail never hurt anyone,and the simple fact is that at present these charges are being tossed.This is just an attempt at getting some form of punishment where none now exists.

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