Now when you say Chicago is my “kind” of town, it’ll have a whole new meaning. On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council decisively approved a new ordinance by a landslide vote of 43-3 that allows law enforcement to issue a ticket to anyone caught in possession of 15 grams (slightly more than half an ounce) or less. Previously, any amount of pot potentially meant arrest and a sentence of up to six months, particularly for minorities.
Unfortunately, under the new law, arrests are still required for anyone busted at a school or park, as well as anyone under the age of 17 or lacking proper ID. Those merely ticketed would face fines ranging from $250 to $500 with a “portion” of the money used for children-based anti-drug campaigns, which will likely emphasize marijuana instead of truly dangerous hard drugs.
The decrim policy, a long time coming to America’s third-largest city, will go into effect on Saturday, August 4. City Alderman Danny Solis (25th Ward, including the violent Lower West Side) who originally sponsored the decrim proposal in October 2011, declared passage of the “monumental” ordinance to have a “definite impact.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel likewise supports the ordinance because it will save Chicago PD roughly a million dollars a year as well as freeing up officers to combat actual crimes. The latter point couldn’t be more overstated as the Windy City has degenerated in recent years to a murder-plagued metropolis in which weekend homicide totals have been known to hit double digits. That pot arrests in Chicago previously mandated the use of four officers to transport a suspect to be booked at a police station was a ridiculous waste of resources.
Alderman Bob Fioretti (2nd Ward, the Near West Side) wants the ordinance analyzed three times in the next year to determine if it is indeed having an impact on violent felonies – of course, the police still need to do their job to make that happen.
As previously noted, one can still be arrested for smoking or possession at a public park, which would presumably include lakeside gem Grant Park, where the annual Lollapalooza music festival is held each year – and coincidentally enough, runs through the very weekend (August 3rd-5th) in which the cannabis decrim law will be enacted. Although cops are going to need a lot of cuffs if they plan on sticking to the park arrest pot policy at Lollapalooza.