Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called on lawmakers Tuesday to reform the state’s drug policies, including decriminalizing cannabis possession.
“Mayor Emanuel today called on the Illinois State Legislature to reform sentencing laws for low-level drug offenses, keeping non-violent offenders from a lifetime in the criminal justice system, saving taxpayer dollars, and allowing police to focus on more serious crimes”, the Mayor’s office said in a press release. “The Mayor’s proposal calls for a new state law that would reduce possession of one gram or less of any controlled substance in Illinois from a Class Four Felony to a Class A Misdemeanor. The proposal would also expand Chicago’s municipal ordinance, passed in 2012, making possession of 15 grams or less of cannabis a ticketable offense statewide”
“It is time to put our sentencing policies in line with our values, reduce penalties for non-violent, low-level drug offenses so we don’t put people in prison who need drug treatment,” said Mayor Emanuel. “It doesn’t make sense that one arrest for a very small amount of a controlled substance can lead to a lifetime of struggles, sending people in and out of prison and putting up barriers to getting a job or finding a place to live. We need action from Springfield.”
In 2012, Chicago decriminalized the possession of up to 15 grams of cannabis, making it a simple ticket; Emanuel is calling on the state to make the same move, and to remove felony charges for the possession of up to a gram of any illegal substance.