July 27, 2011

Chicago Politicians Considering Expansion Of Marijuana Decriminalization Policy

July 27, 2011
drug czar national policy 2013

friskCook County Illinois Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who boldly declared last month that the war on drugs has failed, said she’s talked with Chicago’s new police Supt. Garry McCarthy about halting arrests for low-level drug possession offenses.

“It’s pretty well known within the criminal justice system that the judges will dismiss those charges [involving] very modest amounts of illicit drugs,” she said.

“I suggested to him that although the law is pretty clear that such possession is a violation of the law, that since the judges routinely and almost universally dismiss such low level drug charges that the police might stop arresting people for this since it clogs up our jail and these people their cases will be dismissed out anyway,” Preckwinkle told reporters after Wednesday’s Cook County Board meeting.

Preckwinkle didn’t provide specifics, but her staff later said she was referring to solely marijuana possession cases.

Preckwinkle said she did talk with McCarthy after he was hired earlier this year. She is trying to reduce the jail population. It costs $142 a day per prisoner. She propose directing money toward education and drug treatment.

“The city of Chicago is the principal driver of our jail population, so I’m trying to talk to him about the concerns that I have about the ways our drug laws are enforced and their impact, the communities of the people who are arrested for these offenses come out of, their families … but also taxpayers.”

Asked about McCarthy’s response to her suggestion, Preckwinkle said: “I think that remains to be seen.”

Back in 2009, the Cook County Board approved an ordinance that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. The measure allows Cook County Sheriff’s Police to issue a $200 ticket for possessing 10 grams or less of marijuana in unincorporated parts of the county. Information about the number of tickets issued wasn’t immediately available.

-Article From WLSAM


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