Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

McCarthy "Not a Fan" of Decriminalizing Pot

Police superintendent says marijuana-related violence has spiked in areas

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Chicago police superintendent says there is a happy medium between decriminalizing marijuana and taking a possessor into custody: ticketing.

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While Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy admits he's "not a fan" of a plan to fully decriminalize the possession of marijuana, he does believe there is a happy medium between that and taking a possessor into custody: ticketing.

"I'm not a fan of decriminalization," McCarthy told reporters Tuesday. "However, we don't have to process that arrest with an in-custody arrest. If you receive a ticket for it, the officer is still on the street and at the same time that person has to answer for their actions."

McCarthy's problem with all-out decriminalization stems from his years with the New York Police Department. In New York, decriminalization led to an increase in marijuana-related violence.

"I really caution that we have to be a little bit careful as we look at this because in New York there was a very clear increase in marijuana-related violence from these bad guys who were now selling marijuana...with no sanction versus getting caught with an ounce of crack and going to jail for 20 years," he said.

Lawmakers flirted with the idea to ticket offenders back in October, with Cook County commissioner John Fritchey claiming that jailing marijuana offenders hasn't accomplished much for the city.

"The simple truth is that the decades-long policies...have failed to do anything other than fill our jails with non-violent offenders, strain our budgets, and according to some studies, even cause an increase in more serious crime," Fritchey said.

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has been very supportive of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. In an interview with the Reader in July, she said arresting offenders for possessing small amounts of pot is a waste of time and money.

"The drug policies in this country are stupid and extraordinarily expensive," she said.

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