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Chicago: City Council Votes To Remove Criminal Misdemeanor Penalties For Pot Possession

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director June 27, 2012

    The American public is fed up with the criminalization of cannabis. And now, more and more politicians are finally starting to get the message.

    This afternoon, members of the Chicago City Council voted overwhelmingly to halt the practice of arresting minor marijuana offenders. By a vote of 43 to 3, members of the Council approved a new municipal ordinance that reduces most marijuana possession offenses to a ticket-like offense — no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record.

    Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is defined as a criminal misdemeanor offense, punishable by 30 days to one year imprisonment. Under the new municipal law, which takes effect August 4, police will in most cases now have the option of issuing civil citations, punishable by a fine, in those instances involving the possession of up to 15 grams (about one-half ounce) of marijuana.

    The reduced penalties will not apply to cases involving the possession of marijuana in public parks or on school grounds, nor would they apply to incidences involving public cannabis smoking.

    Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel — a former opponent of reducing marijuana penalties — advocated in favor of the new measure, which mimics police policy in many surrounding suburbs. In 2010, the city of Philadelphia enacted a similar policy.

    Advocates for the new law had argued that the present criminal enforcement of marijuana possession laws disproportionately targeted African American and Hispanic youth. According to data compiled and posted by the website marijuana-arrests.com, 95 percent of all defendants arrested on marijuana charges in Chicago are either Black or Hispanic. Of those individuals criminally convicted of low-level marijuana possession offenses, 98 percent are either Black or Hispanic.

    44 Responses to “Chicago: City Council Votes To Remove Criminal Misdemeanor Penalties For Pot Possession”

    1. […] I'm sure you've all seen this but for those who haven't. Chicago: City Council Votes To Remove Criminal Misdemeanor Penalties For Pot Possession | NORML Blog… __________________ Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk, that'll teach you to keep […]

    2. Kirill Obraztsov says:

      god, finally lol. my mom was allwayd agensed weej just cuz i could go to jail and stuff and it would go on my record. its still illigal but now it would only be a ticket if SWIM got caught

    3. anonymous says:

      Initially it was to be a $100 fine . Now i find out they’ll raise the fines all the way up to $500 . Making no sense the increase is only because of corruption and greed .

      As WBBM Newsradio Political Craig Dellimore reports, under the proposed ordinance, people caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana would face a $500 fine and 10 hours of community service, instead of jail time .

      [Paul Armentano responds: The fine is $250. The $500 fine is a maximum penalty that only applies to those with multiple citations in a 30-day period. Compare the $250 fine penalty to those that exist now, which are not limited to arrest, court appearance, cost of hiring a lawyer, time incarcerated (punishable up to one-year), and a criminal record, among other punishments.]

    4. lockedoutofthesheddammit says:

      this is AWESOME!! i dont even live there. i live in florida which, i figure will be the last state to even consider anything close to this. i dont blame that on the elderly near as much as i do blame our pill supporting governor. i have no optimism that our federal government will tolerate this. i am currently being drug tested to keep my job and total legalization is the only thing that will change that. i will be dead and gone before that will ever happen and it is incredibly depressing.i am glad that many will enjoy these decrim. benefits. thanks to normal for great support of the awesome herb….peace to you all..

    5. Dougals says:

      This is Great. And is it 1 and a 1/2 once or is that a 1/2 once

    6. Collin says:

      It would be nice to simply see marijuana removed from the Schedule 1 list of substances. That right there will change everything in one swift motion.

      It’s time for the Feds to admit their 75 year folly.

      But all in all I’m excited to see the number of states that are speaking up on behalf of everyone’s civil liberties.

    7. Shawn Christopher says:

      43-3!!!!!!!!!!!!! pretty compelling and hopeful statistics on that vote.

    8. David says:

      That’s cool keep it out of the schools and parks. Take your shit from where you get it and go home with it. We the Smokers have to make sure this works so other places will follow.

    9. turtle says:

      Does this apply in both Lake and Cook county?

    10. Brandon Boucher says:

      “god, finally lol. my mom was allwayd agensed weej just cuz i could go to jail and stuff and it would go on my record. its still illigal but now it would only be a ticket if SWIM got caught”

      wow, all that i can say is, wow…

      please, by the grace of God, please go get an education…

    11. Capt Nemo says:

      One can only hope that these places that are leaving the citation to the police officers discretion, hold a thorough training to all officers across the board. Communication and consistency is the only FAIR way to know what we are up against if we get caught. Not just this state, but all who attempt to decriminalize small amounts for personal consumption.

    12. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Maybe this new law would help get rid of some of the reefer madness towards citizens and less danger from those who are not involved.

      It would have been much better if Illinois would legalize it, so that Chicago alone would not become a rip-off city. Busting people on marijuana will become the cities new source of revenue.

      And you thought Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has a change of heart.

    13. Fireweed says:

      The end is near…..of prohibition, that is :-)

    14. anonymous says:

      [Paul Armentano responds: The fine is $250. The $500 fine is a maximum penalty that only applies to those with multiple citations in a 30-day period .

      I wouldn’t hold your breath .No mention of that here, Paul –

      The 43-3 vote in favor of the ordinance, which allows officers to write a ticket for $250 to $500 for possessing as much as 15 grams of marijuana or about 15 marijuana cigarettes, was expected after a council committee voted 13-1 last week to approve the measure .

      [Paul Armentano responds: “The maximum, $500 fine would be assessed against anyone slapped with a second citation within a 30-day period.”

      http://www.suntimes.com/news/crime/13441629-418/city-council-pass-pot-possession-ticket-ordinance.html.

    15. tom says:

      god bless commen sense lol. never thought id live to see the day that i can smoke a joint in chitown and feel good about a politican

    16. tom says:

      baby steps..

    17. Concerned in Chicago says:

      As a Chicaoan this has a slightly different meaning to me then the obvious explanation.

      First of all, allow me to explain the 43-3 vote. Chicago isn’t really a representive democracy but an elective dictatorship. The mayor completely runs the show. Rahm really wanted this and every alderman knew they if they voted against it there would be SERIOUS potentially career ending consequences. Hence, the only votes against it were from long-time deeply entrenched aldermen with their own political bases, like Edward Burke.

      Second, Rahm’s motivation is not purely ideological. Chicago is DEEPLY in debt, and this is a fundraising measure. If anything I think the CPD might be being told to step up marijuana enforcement under this ordinance. Find the pot-smokers and quickly give them tickets. They won’t argue because they’re glad to avoid a Chicago holding cell and boom 500 bucks a pop in the city coffers. Don’t believe me? Then you probably beleive the new speed cameras are entirely due to Mr. Emmanuals concern for pedestrian safety.

    18. blindNOmore says:

      Does noone else see that this law of discretion is wrong? I am all for decriminilization of cannabis, but any discretionary law leaves the door wide open for racism, and bias from the officer. The office should should

    19. Adam says:

      Let the dominoes fall…. hopefully!

      A great and fair day my friends!

    20. […] Chicago: City Council Votes To Remove Criminal Misdemeanor Penalties For Pot Possession The American public is fed up with the criminalization of cannabis. And now, more and more politicians are finally starting to get the message. This afternoon, members of the Chicago City Council voted overwhelmingly to halt the practice of arresting minor marijuana offenders. By a vote of 43 to 3, members of the Council approved a new municipal ordinance that reduces most marijuana possession offenses to a ticket-like offense — no arrest, no jail, and no criminal record. Under present law, the possession of any amount of marijuana is defined […] […]

    21. DAvid Lee says:

      15 Grams. WTF? ITs the city, Everyone standing around smoking on your 7 gram blunt. This is another Joke in a long series of punchlines to the question? If possession aint so bad but sales are terrible How are you supposed to possess anything. Growing aint Easy and Chicago has too much pollution to grow outside so…. Riddle me that. 15 Grams whats that a half pack of smokes? Half an oz. An oz sounds like a lot but its only 1/16 of lb and lb isn’t much either. LOL or cry, your choice.

    22. John k. says:

      I can barely afford a sack of weed let alone a ticket/fine. Where’s the weed at anyways? Been dry as fuck here, I’ve been suffering.

      Meh, greed at it’s finest.

      Might be a kind of retard step forward but least it is something.

      I watched one of the news channels, norml and readers, you should have seen the opposition speaking in front of the camera’s, typical, blaming on children as an excuse not to decriminalize, but one did have a very good point, why only if caught with it you get a fine? But if you get caught smoking it, you still go to jail, so yea it’s not really decriminalized yet, like I said, it’s a retard step forward.

      Just legalize already, in Illinois & Indiana. Pole smoking bastards. I am just fed up with the govt period.

    23. big bud says:

      We need the Feds to drop marijuana from a schedule one class substance. It should be defined as use as a medical treatment replacement drug.This would drop the rediculous fines and imprisonment that now ruin norml citizens lives and diruption of tretments for chronic disease and illness.People will always use marijuana to treat disease because it is safer to use and no side effects.The public needs to be educated on proper use and not abuse.

    24. Rickardo says:

      Why has noone challenged the DOJ on medical marijuana legality when they and CONGRESS allow it and have passed laws dictating its sale and use in the District of Columbia? Am i the only one who sees the HYPOCRACY ? Why do they get to smoke and i dont? When will Congress lead by example…

    25. MJS says:

      For those of you who do not know how to add – 15 grams is 1g over a half ounce.

      It’s not perfect. The fine does seems high (no pun intended) but it’s a start. LEGALIZE!!! Go after REAL criminals… you know, the ones who hurt kids or murder people? Leave the stoners alone. All they do is chill and talk about stuff. They don’t cause anyone harm. Illegalizing this wonderful, nature’s made drug is stupid and endangers people who wouldn’t otherwise have to deal with shady people.

    26. St. Nick says:

      There should be a million man march or million “bud” march on Washington. It’s worked before. If/when this country legalizes pot, it will be a perfect country. A place I’m even more proud to live in.

    27. john williamson says:

      All hail thy cannabis!

    28. DAvid Lee says:

      15 grams is almost a half troy oz which is 31.1grams. 28 gram ounce Gross pathetic.

      I can count stupid. Guess what? That aint much weed. Out here in Maine were allowed up to a lb before it turns into criminal offenses. And when I get caught with two pounds, and I’ve got one lb each of two separate strains, I can argue that I am still in the limits. Rhode Island for the win. possession up to a kilo. Course sales of less than 50lbs in Massachusetts is not a serious crime either.

    29. Chicago Tom says:

      why oh why do we have to make it about race??? is it because barak is black or rahm is a spic? jesus the only reason that 95% of all minorities in the hood west side south side all sell drugs for a living and dont make it a secret. Which wouldnt be a big deal if it was just weed but they get to some nasty shit out west from crack to mainlining H.. the youth sticks to the weed game mostly but there is no discretion in the hood. That and most of us white folk are obviously not getting caught.. ironic though because ive been pulled over many times on the west side for being white in the n hood the cop just assumed i was buying drugs go figure… the same freedom that allows me to rant like a fed up slightly predjudice person i am and bitch about the double standards n political correctness that is ruining our society…so good job rahm its a step in the right direction just do it for the right reasons!!! our freedom as american citizens to make our own choices…

      stay up everyone!!

    30. Jean Fleming says:

      I am 73 year old who suffers from a disease called Fibromyalgia which is a chronic condition of widespread pain and fatigue. I don’t smoke so I take it in the form of cookies, candy and other edibles. We live in CA and it’s legal in our state. Yet the Feds continue to raid our clinics. It should be sold in drug stores just like any medicine with a perscription.

    31. JWLaberdee says:

      Looks to me like they turned a fiscal liability into a fairly generous revenue stream. It Does represent a small step forward, but in the end the consumers will pay a high price to engage in behavior that should have been their right to do freely.
      Oh well, I guess baby steps ARE still steps.

    32. Bryan says:

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    33. Bryan says:

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    34. Bryan says:

      CHIdey . FnF up*d . got it . useyer discresion

      Bryan . former Comm. Dir~y . * . Internet Comm
      {[Hyper]}AND . Holder ., ya a rule on RepubLah

      Armentano please .admin .not accipt OTay . :-D

    35. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    36. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    37. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    38. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    39. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    40. […] Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and a Democratic Parties in a growing number of states removing behind […]

    41. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    42. […] prominent Democrats such as Representative Pelosi, Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, New York Governor Cuomo, and the Democratic Parties in a growing number of states getting behind […]

    43. Doc hooten says:

      Great news Chicago land. Hear in southern Ohio today it’s eradication time again.The cops having fun pulling all they can find and try’n to bust the mom an pop growers.Home grown bud is a large part of this country,s economy, No matter barter or cash, When home grown isn’t avalible people don’t stop we buy commercial. On a more personal note.I have a Dr’s recomendation in California

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