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?