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Revenues from marijuana ticketing law lagging

Our readers may be aware that the city of Chicago implemented a new marijuana ticketing law early last fall. Under that law, officers are allowed to write a ticket for up to $500 for possession as much as 15 grams of marijuana. Back when the law was approved, supporters said the ordinance would free up police officers to spend more time on the street instead of dealing with paperwork associated with arresting marijuana offenders.

Other supporters said the law would reduce the jail population and address the high racial disparity seen among those who are arrested for marijuana possession. As is well known, a disproportionate number of African Americans are arrested for possessing the drug, despite the fact that its use is relatively even throughout the city.

Marijuana offenders of any level who are caught in a school or park district facility are still arrested by police, and officers still have the option to arrest those possessing under 15 grams of marijuana if they so choose. And according to reports, many still do make such arrests.

Boosts in city revenue from the ticketing ordinance are set to be significantly less than the city was hoping for. Some of the revenue from marijuana citations was going to be reinvested in drug education and substance abuse programs, but it remains to be seen how that will all play out.

Those charged with marijuana possession and other drug crimes need to understand their legal rights in order to build a strong defense. While marijuana possession may not seem like such a serious offense giving the shifting tide of public opinion, the consequences for such a charge can be serious. It is important to work with an experienced attorney in mounting a strong defense against these and other drug charges.

Source: Huffington Post, "Chicago Marijuana Tickets: City Nets $98,000 In Fines During New Law's First 5 Months," Joe Erbentraut, January 11, 2012.

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