Chicago City Council Reduces Marijuana Possession To A Non-Arrestable Offense

  • On June 27, 2012, the Chicago City Council overwhelmingly voted in favor of a municipal measure to halt the arrest of minor marijuana offenders.

    The Council members voted 43 to 3 for allowing the discretion of citing, rather than arresting, those found in the possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less (about one-half ounce) on their person to the city police. This new policy, however, will not be applicable to cases involving the possession of marijuana in public parks or on school grounds, nor would it apply to incidences involving public cannabis smoking.

    The new measure takes effect on August 4, 2012.
    A former opponent of reducing marijuana penalties, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, advocated in favor of the new measure that mimics police policy in many of the surrounding suburbs of the city.

    Policy change advocates argued that the present criminal enforcement of marijuana possession laws disproportionately targeted African American and Hispanic youth. Ninety-five percent of all defendants arrested on marijuana charges in Chicago are either Black or Hispanic, according to data compiled and posted by the website Ninety-eight percent of those individuals criminally convicted of low-level marijuana possession offenses are either Black or Hispanic.

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