Public Pot Smoking Will Not Be Criminalized If Chicago’s Mayor Has Her Way
With recreational legalization less than two months away, Mayor Lori Lightfoot wants to protect the Windy City’s most heavily policed populations from consumption charges.
Published on November 14, 2019

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In an attempt to reconcile city policing standards with the implementation of cannabis legalization, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot proposed a city ordinance this week that would reduce the penalty for smoking cannabis in public to a civil violation instead of a criminal charge.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the newly introduced measure would create a $50 fine for violators caught lighting up in public. If the same resident is caught sparking up outdoors a second time within 30 days, the fine becomes $100.

Illinois lawmakers legalized cannabis this past July, but the end of prohibition won’t officially kick off until January 1st, 2020. By that time, Mayor Lightfoot wants to make sure that city residents — and especially people of color, who have historically faced harsh treatment for pot offenses at the hands of Chicago PD — enjoy the same freedoms as suburbanites.

“For far too long, unjust and outdated cannabis enforcement laws have adversely and disproportionately affected Chicago’s black and brown neighborhoods,” Mayor Lightfoot said in a press release announcing the proposal. “The legalization of cannabis in Illinois presents a powerful opportunity to reform our policies and right these generation-old wrongs of the past as we work to ensure a safe, fair, and responsible implementation in Chicago.”

Gallery – Photos of Cops Smoking Weed:

Despite the presence of recreational or medical cannabis laws on the books in over half of the country, smoking marijuana in public is still outlawed in all 50 states. On the other side of the coin — and the county’s northern border — local law in Ontario, Canada allows the consumption of pot anywhere tobacco consumption is allowed.

Mayor Lightfoot’s proposed ordinance was submitted to City Hall on Wednesday and will now await final approval or denial from the Chicago City Council. 

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Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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