On June 27th, Chicago joined New York, Los Angeles, Boston and 13 states in decriminalizing the possession of personal use quantities of marijuana. And D.C.? It’s still a criminal offense, punishable by up to 6 months in jail.
By a vote of 44-to-3, the Chicago City Council voted to decriminalize possession personal use quantities of marijuana. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the move, saying that it would allow him to use police resources more effectively.
Less than 15 grams of pot will now get you a ticket in Chicago and a $500 fine. The city expects to reap between 7 million dollars in ticket revenue annually from marijuana tickets.
Remarkably, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy came out in favor of decriminalization. His reason, criminal marijuana cases “tied up more than 45,000 police hours” every year in arrests and court appearances. Chief McCarthy said he will redeploy his officers from arresting marijuana users “to address more serious crime.” Duh.
McCarthy also noted that marijuana arrests fell disproportionately on African-Americans. Last year in Chicago, only 1,000 of the 20,603 people arrested for possession of marijuana were white. 15,862 African-Americans were arrested for possession of less than 10 grams of pot. These people, mostly young kids, wound up in court, on probation, and many with criminal records.
Too bad D.C., Virginia and Maryland don’t see the light. In all 3 jurisdictions, possession of personal use amounts of marijuana is still a criminal offense. It seems like our Mayor and City Counsel are more concerned with lining their pockets, and keeping their jobs, than putting our young people on par with those in other large cities.