Starting in August 2012, police in Chicago have had the ability to cite those caught with 15 grams of pot or less with a $250-$500 ticket, take the herb and let that person on their way. The police haven’t been doing that, though.
According to a study by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy, 93 percent of the misdemeanor pot possession charges in the city involved an arrest.
Kathleen Kane-Willis, lead author of the study, says that the results show a flawed system and the need for further reform.
“If we really want marijuana reform, we have to have a consistent policy across the state,” Kane-Willis said. “Otherwise people end up with different punishments, and the consequences cause more harm. This is not a good way to do policy.”
But if you listen to the police (and really why should you?), the policy is going swimmingly. Adam Collins, spokesman for the Chicago Police tells the Chicago Tribune that there were 5,000 fewer pot arrests in 2013 than there were in 2011. Collins says the implementation just takes time. Collins also points out that most pot cases are thrown out in court. Never mind that cops are wasting time and resources and people are still being hassled and spending money on jail and court fees.
Kane-Willis says that the decrease in arrests doesn’t mean the policy is a “win”. She tells the Tribune that she still wouldn’t give Chicago a passing grade when it comes to cannabis policy reform.
Chicago City Council approved the policy in 2012 under the assumption that it would generate a lot of money for the city while allowing cops to focus their arrests to actual criminals.