On Friday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel shared his support for a marijuana decriminalization proposal that will be voted on by city council members later this month.
Under Chicago’s proposed ordinance, possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana would be considered a violation and fineable offense, as opposed to a misdemeanor, as it is currently classified. Currently, if someone is discovered with small amounts of marijuana in the city, they face up to 6 months in jail.
A group of Chicago Alderman initially proposed the ordinance last year as a way to save money for the city and allow police officers to focus on more serious crimes. In addition, should the ordinance pass, it will bring in new revenue for the city.
Emanuel follows closely behind New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who announced his support of marijuana decriminalization in NY only a few weeks ago. Emanuel had an analysis done of the city’s currently police system to see if such an ordinance would have positive effects for the city and he is now confident in its ability to cut costs and time constraints for the city’s police force.
Emmanuel explained,”The result is an ordinance that allows us to observe the law, while reducing the processing time for minor possession of marijuana – ultimately freeing up police officers for the street.”
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy shared Mayor Emanuel’s sentiments, explaining that, “[Low level marijuana possession] arrests tied up more than 45,000 police hours. The new ordinance nearly cuts that time in half, which equals an approximate $1 million in savings, while freeing up cops to address more serious crime.”
Minor marijuana possession has been decriminalized in 15 states, and a number of cities throughout the country have adopted ordinances similar to the one currently proposed in Chicago.
The Chicago ordinance will be voted on at the end of the month.