A Little Pot May Be Just The Ticket

Ordinance comes after commissioner's grandson was busted

If you’re busted carrying a small amount of marijuana in portions of Cook County patrolled by the sheriff’s police, you may get off with a ticket.

The county board on Tuesday passed an ordinance giving sheriff’s police and deputies patrolling unincorporated portions of the county the latitude to arrest a suspect on a misdemeanor charge or, under the new ordinance, hit them with a $200 ticket if they’re carrying 10 grams or less of marijuana.

Cook County President Todd Stroger said he didn't know if he would sign the measure.  If he does, it would take effect within 60 days.

Leading the charge was Cmsr. Earlean Collins, a Democrat who admitted her grandson was busted for carrying a small amount of marijuana.

She says arrests like that clog the jails, although Sheriff Tom Dart’s spokesman said the sheriff hasn’t been consulted on the ordinance.

"They got my grandson...he had a half of joint in the car," Collins said. "They stopped him. They took him to the police station. They impounded his car and let him out the next morning. Why do that?"

"A lot of kids make a mistake, have a little marijuana, and they can avoid going to jail or court."

The ticket option also means a bust won’t result in a criminal record. It was unclear, however, what might happen to repeat offenders.

Collins did say an administrative procedure would be available to those who want to fight a ticket.

Commissioner Gregg Goslin, a Republican who voted against the measure, said any laws to decriminalize pot should be done by the state.

"You can’t have a patchwork quilt of law in every county. That law should be voted on at the state level," Goslin said.

Nearly five years ago, Mayor Richard Daley embraced a police sergeant’s proposal to ticket people for small amounts of marijuana --  from $250 for 10 grams of pot to $1,000 for 20 to 30 grams -- but the plan never got off the ground.

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