Chicago decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

In a 43 to 3 vote, the Chicago City Council voted to allow police to write citations instead of making arrests for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel backed the measure which was approved at the council’s meeting Wednesday, June 27, 2012.

The mayor said he backed the measure to free police officers to spend time on more serious crimes, such as the city’s spiking murder rate.   Supporters said the citations would also help raise revenue for the city. 

Chicago police can now issue a written citation instead of making an arrest for possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana.

The Marijuana Policy Project reported 14 states impose fines but not jail time for simple possession of marijuana.  Some of those states may require drug counseling or education.   

More states, including Illinois, considered or were considering removing jail time as a possible penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana.   An Illinois legislative committee was considering HB 100 which would reduce possession of up to 28.35 grams of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a petty offense, punishable with a $500 fine for a first offense and $750 for a second offense. 

Reuters reported Chicago Police made more than 18,000 arrests for possession of less than ten grams of marijuana last year.