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Lollapalooza Rings in New Chicago Pot Policy

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Lollapalooza Rings in New Chicago Pot Policy

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Chicago's largest music festival kicks off Friday, a day before the city's new marijuana policy officially takes effect.

Starting Saturday, Chicago Police have the option to issue $250 to $500 tickets instead of making arrests for possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less. The City Council voted 43-3 in June to approve the new rules.

Supporters of the ordinance, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said issuing tickets frees up cops for more serious crime and ultimately will save the police department about $1 million.

"This isn't decriminalization, Mr. President," said Ald. Ed Burke (14th) said during the council meeting. "It is re-criminalization ... a more intelligent and effective way of addressing a problem."

Meanwhile about 100,000 people are expected to attend each of Lollapalooza's three days in Grant Park. Festival organizers this year installed more fencing to prevent gate-crashers and increased security to combat disturbances outside the park.

Under the new marijuana rule, anyone caught with pot under the age of 17 or without proper identification will still be arrested. Pot arrests also still will be mandated for anyone caught smoking pot in public or possessing marijuana in or near a school or in or near a park.

Ald. Danny Solis (25th), who introduced the proposal last fall, called the policy a "monumental ordinance" that will have "a definite impact." 

But it won't necessarily affect Lollapalooza-goers this weekend.

The fenced-in area containing the festival is considered park district property and arrests can still be made.

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