Last year in Chicago, more than 18,000 people were busted for misdemeanor possession (10 grams or less of marijuana). This “tied up more than 45,000 police hours,” says Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. He supports a new ordinance that relies on ticketing offenders rather than arresting them. New Mayor Rahm Emanuel also supports the ordinance, as it allows police to be on the street rather than wasting hours on processing these arrests. Interestingly, Mayor Emanuel’s last job was serving under a politician who opposes both medical and recreational pot. He is President Obama’s former Chief of Staff.


Alderman Danny Solis was responsible for the measure. He points out that most of those arrested are black and Hispanic and come from predominantly minority neighborhoods. ”The worst crime is happening in the same neighborhoods where the possession [arrests] are happening,” he says. “The police officer is now going to be more in the neighborhoods that need him or her than in the district doing paperwork.”


Solis expects Chicago’s City Council to vote on and pass the bill this summer. In Rhode Island, Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a bill that imposes a $150 civil fine on adults caught with an ounce or less of marijuana. And in New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a bill that would change possession of small amounts of marijuana in public view from a criminal misdemeanor to a violation with a fine up to $100.

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