Next to Decriminalize Marijuana: Chicago?

No more jail time for small amounts, if city councilmen have their way

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 28, 2011 8:41 AM CDT

(Newser) – As public support for marijuana legalization grows, Chicago may take things one step closer: The city is looking to decriminalize the stuff, meaning users carrying small amounts would pay tickets instead of winding up in jail, the Chicago Tribune notes. Those carrying less than 10 grams would be slapped with a $200 fine and be required to perform community service, AFP reports. City council members intend to introduce the ordinance next week as a cost-cutting measure that would allow police to focus on bigger threats.

“It is not time to act tough on crime; it is (time) to be smart on crime. We need our resources spent somewhere else,” says the county commissioner. As it stands, the city’s police make some 23,000 marijuana possession arrests every year; those caught face six months in jail and a $1,500 fine. Across the country, 11 states have already decriminalized the drug, while 18 have legalized medical marijuana.

Chicago's leaders are looking to decriminalize marijuana.
Chicago's leaders are looking to decriminalize marijuana.   (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)
FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, Yamileth Bolanos, who runs Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center, holds a vial of marijuana known as Jupiter Kush, at her store in Los Angeles. California's largest industry group for doctors is calling for the legalization of marijuana even as it maintains...
FILE - In this Jan. 26, 2010 file photo, Yamileth Bolanos, who runs Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center, holds a vial of marijuana known as Jupiter Kush, at her store in Los Angeles. California's largest...   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon, File)
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