More arrests than citations for small amounts of marijuana in Chicago, study says

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new study by Roosevelt University found people in Chicago are more likely to get arrested for marijuana possession instead of being ticketed or fined.

Despite a law meant to decriminalize carrying small amounts of marijuana by issuing tickets or fines in low level cases, the study found the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois continue to have high numbers of arrests.

Roosevelt University's Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy conducted the study, entitled "Patchwork Policy: An evaluation of arrests and tickets for marijuana misdemeanors in Illinois", which was released on Monday.

For the past two years, a team of scholars analyzed arrest records, police data, laws and ordinances in 102 cities across the state.

The numbers suggest that in the city of Chicago, 93 percent of low level marijuana cases end in arrest, despite the city's ticket ordinance.

"There is a gap between what the policy is, what front line police officers are doing and have been trained to do," Kathie Kane-Willis of the Roosevelt University Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy said.

However a Chicago Police Department spokesperson said police are making progress with the city's cannabis ordinance, citing 5,000 fewer arrests in low-level marijuana possession in 2013 than in 2011.

Meanwhile some local lawmakers are pushing for a marijuana legalization policy.

"The majority of the country supports a legalization plan for the country," Cook County Commissioner John Fritchey said. "All we can do is worry about Illinois and we need to start taking steps in the right direction."

Researchers in Chicago said the state is failing when it comes to marijuana policy, and there needs to be something more consistent.
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