Proposal Would Reduce Fines And Drop Seizures For Cannabis In Chicago

In a Chicago City Council meeting on Wednesday morning, Mayor Lori Lightfoot introduced new amendments to the city’s Municipal Code which would drastically reduce fines for cannabis offenses and abolish the impounding of vehicles when marijuana is found in them by law enforcement.

The new ordinance would bring policies in the city of Chicago in-line with the state’s revised marijuana laws, allowing the possession of up to 30 grams of cannabis flower and reducing fines for first-time minor offenses from the current maximum amount of $500 to $50.

According to the rules, individuals can also transport up to 30 grams in an automobile if the cannabis is in a sealed container.

Under the ordinance, Chicago Police protocols will also be amended and officers will receive education on the new state law, highlighting what will still be considered illegal such as smoking cannabis in public, an automobile, or anywhere that smoking is prohibited under the Smoke-Free Illinois Act.

“By overturning outdated cannabis laws, Chicago’s police officers will finally have a smart, sensible, and safe framework that prioritizes public safety of all residents in this city,” said Supt. Eddie Johnson in a statement. “Over the coming months, the Department will be working to ensure every officer has the necessary training and tools needed to enforce these reformed laws and keep Chicago’s communities safe.”

Mayor Lightfoot says that outdated and unjust enforcement of cannabis laws has negatively and disproportionately affected Chicago’s black and brown neighborhoods and that cannabis legalization in Illinois presents a powerful opportunity to reform city policies and correct the wrongdoings of the past while working to ensure a safe, fair, and responsible implementation.

The topic of onsite consumption at cannabis businesses is something that may be addressed in a future ordinance as the state’s new law allows for such establishments but leaves it up to local communities to work out regulation details.

Amendments to the Chicago Municipal Code would go into effect on January 1, 2019, the same day that Ilinois adult-use laws become active.