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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization

Rahm just says "Now" (photo: Zolk / Fllickr)

Chicago Mayor and former Chief of Staff for President Obama Rahm Emanuel (D) has asked the city council to pass a law decriminalizing simple possession of marijuana. From the Chicago Tribune:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is throwing his support behind a plan to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.

Under the proposed ordinance, police officers will have the discretion to issue tickets with fines ranging from $100 to $500 for people carrying 15 grams or less of pot.


Currently people caught in possession face a misdemeanor charge punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

This would be an important step for marijuana reform if it succeeds. Chicago is the United States’ third largest city, containing over two and half million people. On a numerical basis Chicago decriminalizing minor possession of marijuana should impact even more people than the new law recently signed in Rhode Island decriminalizing marijuana. By comparison, Rhode Island has just over a million residents.

Recently we have seen a significant wave of top politicians coming out in support of reducing penalties for marijuana possession. At the beginning of this month New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) proposed reducing the penalties for marijuana in “public view.” Only a few days ago Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) signed a new marijuana decriminalization law. And less than a year ago Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy (D) helped push through a marijuana decriminalization law in his state.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at