Chicago has joined New York and Boston in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And Maryland? It’s still a criminal offense and you can still go to jail.
By a vote of 44-to-3, the Chicago City Council voted to decriminalize possession personal use quantities of marijuana. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supported the move, saying that it would allow him to use police resources more effectively.
Less than 15 grams of pot will now get you a ticket in Chicago and a $500 fine. The city expects to reap between 7 million dollars in ticket revenue annually from civil pot citations. If your caught with less than 15 grams of weed in Chicago, instead of being arrested, you get a civil citation, like a parking ticket – except with a $500 fine.
Remarkably, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy came out in favor of decriminalization. His reason, criminal marijuana cases “tied up more than 45,000 police hours” every year in arrests and court appearances. Chief McCarthy said he will redeploy his officers from arresting marijuana users “to address more serious crime.” Duh.
Too bad the Maryland General Assembly and Gov. Martin O’Malley don’t see it that way. I guess it’s because there is no serious crime in Maryland and it’s better to have use our limited police resources on harmless pot smokers.
Pot arrests take scores of patrol officers off the streets every day, for booking, transport and court appearances. Crime labs busy themselves with analyzing weed, while rape kits and DNA evidence sits. Court dockets are clogged with small marijuana cases, so prosecutors and judges have less time and energy to spend on gun violence, gangs and assaults.
When our young people apply for jobs, they are competing against kids from Chicago, New York and Boston who don’t have criminal records (because pot is not a crime) while our kids have active cases or are on probation. Who do you think is going to get the job, the scholarship or the chance?
44 out of the 47 Chicago City Councilmen understand this and voted to decriminalize small amounts of pot. When is Maryland going to wake up?
Zuckerberg Law Center, PLLC