According to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is backing a proposed ordinance that aims to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, specifically 15 grams or fewer. If passed, law enforcement officers would be given the discretion to give tickets, which would come with fines ranging from $100 to $500.
* In 2011 there were 18,298 arrests for possession of fewer than 10 grams of marijuana in Chicago and each case involves four officers on average while also putting an extra burden on the county's court and jail system, Reuters reported.
* Under the city's laws, possession of this amount carries fines up to $1,500 and jail time of up to six months.
* Chicago Police Department Superintendent Garry McCarthy emphasized the arrests cost the department over 45,000 police hours and the ordinance would slash that number in half while providing $1 million in savings.
* The Chicago Sun-Times reported criticism has been presented before in the case of decriminalizing marijuana in the city, specifically that it's a step towards all-out legalization.
* The police union also argued that law enforcement officers would lose overtime pay they earn from going to court for possession of marijuana cases.
* Alderman Danny Solis (25th Ward) introduced a similar ordinance in the fall that did not succeed, but the new ordinance is a modified version of the original proposal.
* The alderman pointed out that possession of marijuana arrests are made in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods where dangerous crimes are a major issue, according to the Associated Press.
* The Chicago Sun-Times reported Springfield decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in 2009 and Springfield Police Chief Robert Williams said doing so has given officers more time to commit to tackling more serious crimes.
* Williams added that decriminalizing it also benefits first-time younger offenders who are able to avoid having a permanent strike on their record.
Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.
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