Chicago’s War on Drugs
The Chicago Reader reported that Cook County spends at least $78 million every year charging, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating citizens for possession of small amounts of marijuana. It’s estimated that the City of Chicago could eliminate those costs and bring in an additional $7 million in revenue every year just by decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana and also save countless man hours for law enforcement, court and jail personnel.
The City of Chicago is experiencing the same budget problems as other municipalities across the nation and Mayor Rahm Emanuel is considering decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana as a means of producing much-needed revenue for the City. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle wants to reduce the exorbitant costs of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people for low-level drug offenses and Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey agrees with and supports decriminalization of marijuana.
At a recent press conference on the matter, Commissioner Fritchey said “The simple truth is that the decades-long policies that we have had toward possession of small amounts of marijuana have failed to do anything other than fill our jails with nonviolent offenders, strain our budgets, and according to some studies, even cause an increase in more serious crime.”
In order to bring about the desired change, Alderman Danny Solis introduced an Ordinance to the City Council that would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a “ticketable” offense. Rather than charging, prosecuting and incarcerating people who are in possession of small amounts of marijuana, they would be required to pay a $200 fine instead of the current misdemeanor charges that are applied, which costs the city, county and state millions of dollars.
Solis told the Associated Press “In these trying times of the economy, we could really use the revenue generated by fines versus arrests. And each (arrest) means police officers are spending an inordinate amount of time outside the neighborhoods, inside the district offices doing paperwork.”
Solis has the support of Alderman Joe Moreno who shared his thoughts on America’s war on drugs in a blog recently written for the Huffington Post:
“The fact that governments all over the country are broke can be a good thing, if lawmakers are brave enough to stop appealing to the lowest common denominator and start telling the truth. This Ordinance begins this in Chicago.
“The War on Drugs started a year before I was born. It needs to die A.S.A.P., because it has become a de facto war on poor people, minorities and reason.”
Several Aldermen have signed on as co-sponsors of the Ordinance, including Deborah Graham, Bob Fioretti, Joe Moreno, Walter Burnett, Ariel Reboyras, Richard Mell and Howard Brookins.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that even law enforcement officers have suggested decriminalization of marijuana and that the issue has two parts. “The first part, which is what’s motivating people, is the issue of the cost in the system: arresting, overtime, court, jail. Then, there’s also the criminal justice side. I have to evaluate and will evaluate. “
When Emanuel took over as Mayor of Chicago, he made it clear that he would do whatever is necessary to get Chicago’s fiscal house in order. As the City of Chicago and Cook County continually struggle with the same budget issues, the one topic that keeps arising as a potential solution is decriminalization of marijuana. The Offices of Michael J. Brennan..A Drug Crime Lawyer in Chicago.