Chicago’s City Council on Wednesday passed an ordinance that allows police to ticket people found with small amounts of marijuana instead of arresting them, saying aldermen had to do something to keep officers on the street where they can combat the surging homicide rate and not be tied up for hours doing paperwork. 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.
“The calls I get at 2 o’clock in the morning are not about marijuana possession, they’re about someone who’s been shot in my ward,” Alderman Will Burns said before the council voted Wednesday. “I want those calls to cease and the way we do that is to make sure our police are fighting violent crime.”
Alderman Edward Burke, a former police officer, said he was concerned about what the ordinance, which goes into effect Aug. 4, would say to the city’s youth. However, he said he was more troubled by the fact that only 1,000 of the 20,603 people arrested for small amounts of marijuana in the city last year were white compared to 15,862 blacks. “The system is broken but just as I don’t want to send the wrong message to kids, I also don’t want it to be the case (that African-Americans) are going to be 16 times more likely to get locked up in the city of Chicago than some kid” from predominantly white neighborhoods, Burke said.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who along with Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy came out in favor of the ordinance earlier this month, said the current law is actually sending a far more dangerous “message” to children. “I cannot think of a thing that’s more undermining to a message to a child than everybody knowing that 90 percent of the cases are thrown out,” Emanuel told the council after the vote.
So, it’s not re-legalization, but it’s a start. Nice first baby step, Chicago. Can you do better?
Original source material is here.
[image: Google images Chicago]
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