Emanuel supports reducing pot penalty

June 15, 2012

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now saying he supports a plan to partially decriminalize marijuana.

Emanuel's office announced late Thursday night the mayor has decided to throw his weight behind a new ordinance to lessen the penalty for possessing small amounts of pot. Under the proposal, to be sponsored by Ald. Daniel Solis (25th), police would have the option of writing tickets to people caught with 15 grams of marijuana or less.

The mayor's decision comes after a "thorough analysis" by the Chicago Police Department, he said.

“The result is an ordinance that allows us to observe the law, while reducing the processing time for minor possession of marijuana – ultimately freeing up police officers for the street,” Emanuel said in a statement early Friday.

The mayor's office argues the proposal would save money and free up police officers to deal with more serious crimes.

Emanuel has for months held off on taking a stance on decriminalizing pot. A slim majority of aldermen supported an ordinance introduced late last year that would let police write tickets to people possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana.