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Small pot possession makes up 16 percent of Chicago arrests this year

Written by
Clayton Guse

In May, the Illinois legislature passed a measure to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. It hasn't yet made it to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk, but if passed, being caught with 15 grams or less of sweet, dank cheeba would lead to a fine of up to $125 and no court time. In April, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office announced that it would no longer prosecute the possession of misdemeanor amounts of pot. These are all big steps for Chicagoans who want to light up a water pipe without worrying about Johnny Law.

Both the city and state are still far behind Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia, which have all legalized recreational use of the drug. Each of those examples has proven that marijuana legalization both increases tax revenue and allows for police officers to focus on more serious crimes—something that Chicago desperately needs. 

According to the City of Chicago data portal, possession of less than 30 grams of cannabis has accounted for more than 16 percent of the arrests in the city from the start of 2015 through June 23, a disproportional amount of which are in South and West Side neighborhoods. 

Here's a chart breaking down arrests by type of crime in Chicago this year:

If you'd like a better understanding of where arrests for pot possession are occurring in the city, take a look at this heat map:

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