A year ago I called for the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana, and Cook County passed an ordinance to further this effort in areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Police. But in order to make a real difference, decriminalization needs to extend into the city, as well as the county.
Mayor Emanuel’s decision today to support Alderman Solis’ decriminalization plan is a step in the right direction and will allow the Chicago Police Department to focus efforts on serious and violent crime, rather than minor infringements. We have reached a decisive moment in Chicago and Cook County. Every day, resources are diverted on arrests for low-level marijuana possession, crowding our jail and disproportionately affecting poor and minority families.
It is imperative that we move forward and take this needed step that will help reduce the jail population, save money for taxpayers and eliminate criminal justice disparities. I urge my former colleagues on the City Council to support and pass Mayor Emanuel and Alderman Solis’ plan, and I look forward to continued work on this critical issue.