What is pot prosecution good for? | Feature | Chicago Reader

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What is pot prosecution good for?

Little rhyme or reason in reefer cases

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Devon said the pot wasn't his.

"My brother had the marijuana and we got picked up together," said Devon, a 33-year-old west-sider. "Where I come from we don't turn on each other." On the evening of March 4, he and his brother were walking to a friend's house at Kostner and West End when a police car pulled up. "They said we looked suspicious and it's a 'high drug area,'" Devon said. "That's how they do it—they just pull over and take you down."

According to Devon, the cops searched them and found a couple baggies of weed in his brother's pocket. They arrested both men on marijuana charges and took them into the station, where they were locked up for several hours before being released on an I-bond, which means they were given a court date but didn't have to post any bail.

Once again, the police account is a little different.

The officers reported that they saw Devon's brother reach into his pocket as he stood outside an apartment building on West End and heard him say, "Damn police."

Concluding that they'd witnessed a drug transaction, the cops got out of the car to investigate. Devon's brother wasn't up for conversation—he hurried into the building. The officers chased after him, and as he tried to unlock the front door, he dropped three baggies of marijuana to the ground, the police said.

As the officers were arresting Devon's brother, they saw Devon scoop more marijuana off the living room table and "run to the bathroom where he was detained flushing said suspect cannabis in the toilet," according to the police report.

The cops said they then "recovered from said toilet 6 ziplock baggies" of marijuana. The estimated street value of the nearly flushed pot: $60.

Devon wound up appearing before a judge at the misdemeanor courthouse at Harrison and Kedzie in April. Due to his relatively clean record—his only previous conviction was for drinking alcohol in the public way—prosecutors agreed not to press for jail time or a fine if Devon attended four drug-education classes. He did, and in July the judge ruled the case closed, although the arrest remains on his record.

Ironically, the charges against his brother were dropped altogether when the police didn't show up for his brother's court date, which was on a different day.

The experience left Devon frustrated. "If you do keep getting in trouble like this, after a while you get a record and you can't get no job," he said. "All you can do is sell drugs."

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