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Evanston, Illinois, Decriminalizes Marijuana Possession

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #711)
Drug War Issues

Even as Chicago ponders whether to decriminalize pot possession, one of its suburbs has gone ahead and done it. The city of Evanston Monday night passed its 2012 budget, complete with an ordinance that decriminalizes the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.

People caught with fewer than 10 grams would be ticketed and fined, but would face no jail time and no criminal record. Up until now, they would have been charged with a misdemeanor and faced up to six months in jail.

City council members and Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said that decriminalization would prevent young people from being burdened with a criminal record and would free up police and prosecutorial resources in the revenue-strapped town.

"There is a high amount of paperwork and time that is spent going to court," Alderwoman Melissa Wynne told the Daily Northwestern. "It's not just the arrest, but then the processing and follow-through that takes a lot of time."

"A one-time violation by someone with that level of possession could be a teenager or someone in college," said Alderman Donald Wilson. "I wouldn't want to see people suffer the long-term consequences of something that might just be short-term misconduct."

Alderman Peter Braithwaite cited a higher rate of marijuana arrests among black youths in the city in explaining his support for decriminalization. "I'm definitely very concerned about the number of black teens who end up in the criminal justice system and how that affects their futures and abilities to get jobs later in life," he said.

Marijuana law reform is definitely in the air in the Chicago area. The Cook County Board of Commissioners okayed decriminalization in unincorporated areas of the county in 2009 and then expanded that remit to include all jurisdictions in the county that don't have their own police forces. The suburban city of Skokie recently decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams for teenagers, and the city of Chicago is currently considering a decriminalization move.

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.


concerned momma (not verified)

umm this sends a horribale messege,I prefer my child to go to prison rather,than me face humilation of finding out my child used pot.fucking discusting. it would embarss me to death.and i cant let people ruin my reputation in this city.fucking lock the dumbasses up. its alot less worse than  dealing with them at the house,fucking kids and their weed,fucking devils seed.fuck

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 6:06pm Permalink
swagman (not verified)

In reply to by concerned momma (not verified)

Next time you decide to make an argument, learn how to spell first. You are only embarrassing yourself. Please tell me when pot was a BAD thing. It's a great idea that Evanston is decriminalizing marijuana because now the police can stop wasting their time on small crimes dealing with marijuana and instead spend their time worrying about bigger crimes that are going on. And you would rather have your kid go to jail? are you crazy? Its pot....its not heroin, its not cocaine, its not crack, its not bad for you. 

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 3:15pm Permalink
Nolo (not verified)

In reply to by concerned momma (not verified)

I'm sure you wouldn't want your precious reputation in the city ruined! I mean you can't even spell half the words on your post correctly, I wonder how your reputation in the school system was? Talk about comma splices and conjunctions, jeez. Go smoke a joint and chill out, spazz. Peace

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 3:21pm Permalink
Someone Competent (not verified)

If you're so concerned with your public image, maybe you should worry less about what other people would think if your kids smoked, and be more concerned with your own grammar.  If you are truly a "concerned momma" then you should really be focused on your child's writing ability, because it's clear that you have none.

1. It's horrible, horribale doesn't even sound right. You also misspelled message.

2. Sentences start with capital letters and the letter "i" is also capitalized when used by itself.

3. I'm not going to even get into the misuse of periods and commas.

This message is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood stoner.

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 7:49pm Permalink
Just a Kid (not verified)

If enough people go on killing sprees, will they decriminalize that too? doesn't this set the example that if enough people do the wrong thing it becomes okay?

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 8:18pm Permalink
A (not verified)

In reply to by Just a Kid (not verified)

What makes smoking pot bad? It has been proven that it is less harmful(if harmful at all) than both alcohol and tobacco many times over.

It is a victimless crime, you cannot compare it to murder. It is only wrong because it is illegal

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 10:12pm Permalink
Anonymousistaken (not verified)

In reply to by Just a Kid (not verified)

What makes smoking pot bad? It has been proven that it is less harmful(if harmful at all) than both alcohol and tobacco many times over.

It is a victimless crime, you cannot compare it to murder. It is only wrong because it is illegal

Tue, 11/29/2011 - 10:13pm Permalink
"Horribale" (not verified)

In reply to by Just a Kid (not verified)

That is quite the extension man. Its like saying, "Well if having a cat is legal in this appartment, then why cant I have a Polar Bear?" See the flaw? Smoking bud and killing are two totally different acts that should never be put together. Plus when have you heard some one say "Yeah so like that guy just killed someone cause he was high on pot" Never. Yes weed is mixed in sometimes with deaths but that is not the cause of it. When i see a death on the news with drug related charges, drugs such as cocaine, and alcohol (and yes i do consider it a drug.)

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 12:40am Permalink
Nolo (not verified)

In reply to by Just a Kid (not verified)

Maybe look a little deeper into what you just said. You completely generalized that idea. Are you comparing smoking weed to going on a killing spree? If so, you no very little about this topic to make any sort of argument, especially one like that.

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 3:24pm Permalink
Lolsilly (not verified)

In reply to by Just a Kid (not verified)

I think some of you people honestly forget that legalizing weed doesn't mean you have to go around and start doing shitty things? It is still your responsibility how you handle yourself with substances. I'm glad that Evanston took action upon this matter because police forces nowadays must be -very- bored and will absolutely love to pin you with drug possession charges. So much for police forces being known as people who "serve and protect".

Sat, 12/31/2011 - 12:19pm Permalink
"Horribale" (not verified)

Obviously you seemed to have not paid attention during your 5th grade spelling class. Your errors are HORRIBLE and your  reasoning for pot being bad is....? You sound just like one of those people who are very, closed minded about things. The problem with this type of people is that they are frustratingly stubborn, even when faced with an overwhelming argument to the side you oppose. Its like saying something is bad, "Just Because" or "Because I said so". Not only is this reasoning off, its logic is just not there. Do yourself a favor and stop being blind to the truth. Actually read the facts from 3rd party sources and not abovetheinfluence because its just plain bias. Now that I have told you only some of the things I want to in the interest of time, I will just ad, I am 17, I have a job, I do well in school, I help in the community and in my church. Your concept of what someone who smokes pot is the generic stoner. Yes i admit some, a small minority of the "stoner" community does fulfill that stereo type, but the other 95 or so percent are the opposite. Your ignorant and stubborn. Smoke weed, peace and love man

Wed, 11/30/2011 - 12:35am Permalink
Mike Lewis (not verified)

Decriminalization without legalization is a mixed baggie. There is no certainty that this is ultimately a progressive move. To be sure, it's good for the users who avoid a criminal record. But what if demand for pot increases in Evanston, and that's taken as a sign of the failure of decriminalization?

In my view, the most progressive stance at this time is: WHY SHOULD POT BE TREATED ANY DIFFERENT THAN ALCOHOL?

Thu, 12/01/2011 - 12:38pm Permalink
Advocate (not verified)

First of all I agree marijuana should be legalized or decriminalized, but if your a parent and worried about your kid smoking pot it's your responsibility to make sure they don't. Also it's not like if it was legalized there wouldn't be age restrictions on being able to prchase it, and sure even if there were kids would still find a way to get it just like alcohol. Its your job as parent to teach your kid right and wrong so don't pass your short comings on to anyone else, its your fault or your kids even if they are just kids they are not stupid and know its something they should not be doing. They are not as stupid as you think. I don't think people realize how easy it is for a kid to get pot because it is a illegal so the guy selling it to them doesn't care how old they are all he cares about is if they got the money. It's a lot harder for a kid to get alcohol than weed. All I am saying is take some responsibility drugs are always going to be around its your job to make sure your kid doesn't do them.
Thu, 03/29/2012 - 11:51pm Permalink
Kathleen O'Sullivan (not verified)

How in the World could someone worry about the embarrassment of their child getting a ticket for getting caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana, but still be okay with jail time? Is not jail time more of an embarrassment than a mere ticket? How many parents do you know, including yourself, who have never received a ticket of any kind? I am from Chicago (lived here from 1966--2002), but now reside in Denver, CO. Marijuana has been legal for medicinal use for years, but as of 01/01/2013, it is now completely legal. This is the trend that will eventually spread across the entire country. What will you do when this happens? When your teenager can LEGALLY possess & use pot? It must be looked at the same way you look at alcohol. If you don't want your teen to drink alcohol, then you must be proactive in preventing that behavior. Same with pot. It's up to you as a parent, no matter what the law says. And, I must concur with the others' remarks concerning your inability to spell, but adding my alarm at the amount of foul language you chose to post on a public website! You used the "F-word" so many times, I lost count! Don't worry about your child embarrassing you!! You've done that job quite well for yourself!!
Fri, 11/09/2012 - 1:33pm Permalink

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