Chicago lowers marijuana penalties
By a vote of 43-2, the Chicago City Council today approved an ordinance that allows police to cite and fine, rather than arrest, those in possession of under 15 grams of marijuana. The nation’s third largest city joins a growing list — 15 states and dozens of cities in Illinois and nationwide — that allow for civil citations with no possibility of jail time instead of harsh criminal penalties.
The new policy takes effect 30 days after publication and will give officers the discretion to cite, rather than fine, individuals in possession of marijuana. Those cited will face fines of $200-500 and up to 10 hours of community service, but will not face any risk of jail time and will not be given a criminal conviction. The ordinance was actually introduced several months ago, but was given new life when Mayor Rahm Emanuel finally announced his support two weeks ago in the name of reducing costs and freeing up police to combat more serious crimes.
While this is a smart move for Chicago, Illinois’ medical marijuana patients are still at risk of arrest and still have no access to doctor-recommended medicine. Please ask your elected officials to change that today.