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Chicago Mayor Says Decriminalize Marijuana

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #739)
Drug War Issues

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) said last Friday he backed a city council proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The council is set to vote later this month on an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of up to 15 grams of pot.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D)
Fifteen states, including Rhode Island, whose governor signed a decriminalization bill into law Tuesday, have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, as have several large American cities.

Chicago police arrested more than 18,000 people on small-time (less than 10 grams) marijuana possession charges last year. Each arrest involves about four officers -- two to arrest and two to transport -- said a statement from the mayor's office.

"These arrests tied up more than 45,000 police hours," Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said in the statement. "The new ordinance nearly cuts that time in half, which equals an approximate $1 million in savings, while freeing up cops to address more serious crime."

Under existing law, people caught with small amounts of marijuana face up to six months in jail. If the ordinance is approved, they would face only a citation and the loss of their weed.

Emanuel had originally been lukewarm on decriminalization, saying when the topic was broached last year only that he would ask the police to do an analysis. Now, that analysis is in, and Emanuel is on board.

"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," Emanuel said.

The move on decriminalization comes as Chicago faces a long, hot summer. There have been 185 homicides through May 13, up from 116 during the same period last year. And the violence has continued since then, with 22 more people killed this month. Freeing up police resources by decriminalization could be seen as helping to address the violence problem.

The ordinance will likely go for a vote before the City Council on June 27.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


ahpat (not verified)

A kinder gentler Jim Crow

"When you dig into the details, however, it seems that decriminalization could be little more than a Band-Aid over the bullet wound of racist police practices."

In 2008 Obama and the Democrats used sophisticated innuendo and manipulative semantics to CON drug policy reform advocates to support them. They succeeded.

In 2012 the Democrats need, once again, to CON drug policy reform supporters and advocates but now they have Obama's atrocious drug warrior record of the past three years to live down so simplistic semantics won't s easily turn heads.

So now comes Cuomo in New York and Emanual in Chicago, both strong Obama players, right at a time when pot reform is becoming a political issue in the elections, the Democrats put up a big pot reform front.

But looking closely at these proposals makes it clear that they are nothing but a kinder gentler Jim Crow. If that. And they could end up making things much worse.

SEE: Marijuana Decriminalization Won't Kill Discrimination.

"When you dig into the details, however, it seems that decriminalization could be little more than a Band-Aid over the bullet wound of racist police practices."
Sat, 06/16/2012 - 10:03am Permalink
nickh (not verified)

Oh goodie, now they can only rob you and make you pay money for being robbed instead of also throwing you in a cell. What progress! ..But good news I guess.

Sun, 06/17/2012 - 1:28pm Permalink
Nemo (not verified)

Why allow for the piecemeal restitution of liberties stolen from us under false premises? Why just settle for 'decrim', which is just Prohibition Lite? DEMAND full legalization in the legislatures, and remind the pols that with 50% or more of the country saying it's time, if they don't, they can have a taste of unemployment.

Mon, 06/18/2012 - 4:22pm Permalink

All of these Decriminalization Laws only apply to "First Time Offenders"?

So what about us who have already been caught with Marijuana and had our round with the "Punishment System"?

This has No effect on Us/Me, Right?

Even if I move to one of these "Decriminalization States" and then get caught with a small amount of pot are they going to except that in that State I am a "First Time Offender" or are they going to review my past criminal history and see past Marijuana cases from a No-Discriminalization State and count those charges as a Re-offender even thoe I have just moved to that "Decriminalization State" and don't have a Criminal History there?

What Laws protect us who have already been screwed by the "Punishment System"?

Do I have to only take solice in knowing the Teenager next door who is smoking Marijuana and has never been caught, When he gets caught he will pay a fine and be smoking again tomarrow?

As when the Cops catch me doing the same thing they are going to send me to Jail/Prison?

Thu, 06/21/2012 - 11:22am Permalink
Marky D (not verified)

Very good point pot smoker. I am in the same boat and wonder the same thing. Once your on probation it seems that the cops are more likely to want to arrest you again just because it looks like a better arrest even though we shouldn't have been jailed in the 1st place. I smoke weed! It helps me! I don't want to take Xanex and be all messed up! I have an idea! How bout they just arrest people for disrupting the order and peace and not for having an organic substance on them when they haven't caused any harm to anyone not even themselves! Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't the LAW designed to maintain the order and peace amongst citizens? Ok then why are people arrested for doing nothing other than inhaling something?

Mon, 07/02/2012 - 10:39pm Permalink

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