Why Chicago May Change Way It Handles Pot Possession Cases


In Chicago, a proposed new policy on marijuana possession would mean that adults caught with a small amount of the illegal drug would receive a fine, instead of being arrested, NPR reports. It’s mostly a money issue and about how best to use police resources. Under current Illinois law, anyone found with less than about 1 ounce of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that after a ride with Chicago police officers in the gang crimes unit, he knew there had to be a better alternative: Police said they spent too much time on the streets and in courtrooms, over low-level marijuana cases that are dismissed nearly nine out of 10 times. “It’s not decriminalization,” Emanuel says. “It’s dealing with it in a different way, a different penalty. And I want police officers fighting the crimes that need to be fought.” Under the proposed change, a person 18 or older who’s found with about a half ounce or less could get a ticket and go on their way, provided they have proper ID and aren’t wanted for another crime.

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