City Council votes to lower penalties on pot possession | Bleader

City Council votes to lower penalties on pot possession

by

16 comments

This is probably too much to be walking around with . . .
  • This is probably too much to be walking around with . . .
No, you're not high.

Well, maybe you are. I don't know. But the news is true: the Chicago City Council passed a measure to soften penalties for low-level pot possession by a 43 to 3 vote.

The measure was pushed—like about everything else that passes the council—by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who argued it would free police to combat the city's ongoing violence epidemic. It would make possession of about half an ounce or less punishable by a ticket in most circumstances.

Opposing aldermen Lona Lane (18th), Roberto Maldonado (26th), and Nicholas Sposato (36th) worried it would send "the wrong message" to children and said the amount was too high.

One supporter after another stressed that marijuana possession will still be illegal—and the laws enforced. "This is not decriminalization," insisted council dean Ed Burke. "This is recriminalization."

But others worried that it wouldn't do enough to put police on the street or confront the grass gap—the fact that African-Americans account for 78 percent of those arrested, 89 percent of those prosecuted, and 92 percent of those convicted for minor pot possession.

"The war on drugs has failed," said 20th Ward alderman Willie Cochran, a former narcotics cop. Under current policies, he added, "How many of us sitting here could have had a criminal history?"

The measure goes into effect in August.

Comments (16)

Showing 1-16 of 16

Add a comment
 

Add a comment