Marijuana advocates: Chicago’s decriminalization decision is ‘a smart one’

Zach Gorelick Contributor
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Two marijuana advocacy groups expressed satisfaction after news broke that the City Council of Chicago voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The law will direct police officers to issue citations instead of arresting individuals carrying less than 15 grams of cannabis.

Marijuana Policy Project, a non-profit advocacy group, applauded the council’s decision. “Passage of the measure,” the group said in a statement, “means that adults in possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be arrested or saddled with criminal records that can make it harder to obtain employment, housing, and student loans. The ordinance will also allow law enforcement to focus on more serious crimes, like the city’s soaring murder rate, while conserving limited police resources.”

Dan Riffle, a legislative analyst for MPP, added that “the change in enforcement policy is a smart one. Because of the ordinance passed today, a lot of young people in Chicago will have college educations, fulfilling careers, and bright futures to look forward to instead of the job-killing scar of a criminal record.”

NORML, another marijuana advocacy group, said in a statement that “the American public is fed up with the criminalization of cannabis. And now, more and more politicians are finally starting to get the message.”

The amendment to the city municipal code states that a “person commits the offense of possession of cannabis within the City of Chicago by knowingly possessing fifteen grams or less of any substance containing cannabis unless permitted or authorized to do so pursuant to the Cannabis Control Act. Any person who violates this section shall be subject to a fine of not less than $250 nor more than $500 for the first offense, and $500 for the second and each subsequent violation occurring within a period of 30 days.”