Chicago cops likely to arrest — not ticket — for pot possession

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Instead of giving out tickets, Chicago police more often than not arrest people for possession of a small amount of marijuana, according to a study released Monday by Roosevelt University’s Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy.

Researchers found that 93 percent of misdemeanor marijuana possession violations in 2013 resulted in arrest in Chicago.

That despite the city’s 2012 ordinance that allows for tickets to be issued for small amounts of marijuana possession.

Researchers analyzed the “pre- and post-ordinance implementation arresting patterns” and found “Chicago had the smallest decrease in arrests, with arrests declining by only 21 percent.” 

“Where the rubber hits the road is the practice, and there’s a really big disconnect between the policy and the practice,” said Kathie Kane-Willis, the director of the consortium.

RELATED: Disparities in pot arrests reveal two Chicagos

But Chicago Police Department spokesman Adam Collins said the department is making progress.

“From 2012 to 2013 to the early numbers from 2014, CPD is continuing to make progress in implementing the city’s cannabis ANOV [Administrative Notice of Ordinance Violation] ordinance, and there were nearly 5,000 fewer people arrested for low-level cannabis possession in 2013 than in 2011,” he said in an email. “Like any new process, it has taken time to implement the ordinance, and we believe there’s certainly much more work to be done on full implementation.”

In an analysis of Evanston’s implementation of its ticketing ordinance, the study found arrests for small amounts of marijuana decreased by almost 50 percent.

Though Kane-Willis said she “wouldn’t give it an A” if she were grading Evanston, the police in the northern suburb have made the most use of their ordinance, according to the study. 

Evanston Police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said this year so far, Evanston police have issued 55 tickets and arrested 29 people. Last year police there issued 261 tickets and 115 people were charged with possession.

“More often than not a ticket is the appropriate response” he said, adding that the tickets are issued to “the average citizen in possession.” It wouldn’t be used for someone who intends to sell pot or has a prior drug conviction, he said.

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