Pubdate: Thu, 28 Jun 2012
Source: Chicago Sun-Times (IL)
Copyright: 2012 Sun-Times Media, LLC
Author: Dan Rozek


Nobody asked what the Chicago City Council was smoking when it passed 
a new ordinance allowing police to ticket - rather than arrest - most 
marijuana smokers.

Chicagoans interviewed Wednesday backed the plan to issue tickets for 
those caught with no more than 15 grams of pot, saying it should 
raise money while freeing police to deal with more serious crime.

"It seems to make sense to me," said Mark Ulrich, 40. "It leaves the 
court system free to handle more serious things."

The change isn't "dramatic" for Ulrich, a near West Sider who grew up 
in Ann Arbor, Mich., where dope smokers for years have been ticketed, 
rather than arrested.

"I don't think they should be arrested. Just give them the ticket - 
that makes more sense," agreed Chicago resident Kamisha Michel, 23.

Other residents focused on the financial gain, saying Chicago likely 
will collect more cash in fines.

"I don't object to it. I see it as another way to make money," agreed 
Venky Bojan, 29, a North Sider, who said he'd like to see some of the 
fines collected go for drug education programs.

"I see nothing wrong with getting some money out of it," said Dan 
Foot, 29, adding he wouldn't mind if Illinois legislators even 
considered legalizing - and taxing - marijuana use.

"Think how much revenue that would mean for the state," Foot said.

A group pushing to legalize marijuana use hailed the city's new 
policy as "an important first step" toward that goal, despite denials 
by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the new policy takes the city in that direction.

"It almost becomes a de facto tax on cannabis users without endorsing 
the legalization of it," said Dan Linn, Illinois director of the 
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

But the money generated by fines likely will demonstrate the benefits 
of legalizing - and then regulating - marijuana use, he said.

"You take an underground, illegal economy and now you can have 
controls. You can regulate and tax it," Linn said.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom