Chicago’s pot luck

By Samuel Charles

At the most recent Chicago City Council meeting on Nov. 2, Alderman Daniel Solis (25th Ward) introduced a new bill that would decriminalize possessing small amounts of marijuana.

If passed, those caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana would be issued a $200 ticket instead of being arrested and potentially facing jail time.

There really isn’t a downside to this proposal. Cops won’t waste time on low priority drug arrests, fewer people will crowd the legal system and the city would stand to make money off the issued tickets.

So far, there have been no outspoken critics of Solis’ plan, which is surprising because it’s still more politically sexy to denounce “narcotic” decriminalization even with more than half of the American population reportedly in favor of the complete legalization of marijuana. So maybe—just maybe—Chicago politicos are ahead of the curve.

Comedian Daniel Tosh once joked, “I think we should legalize marijuana in this country so potheads have nothing to talk about ever again.”

While full legalization is probably further down the road than it should be, Tosh alluded to something much more profound, whether he meant to or not.

The clichéd stereotype of a traditional pot smoker, which stemmed from the propaganda film turned cult classic “Reefer Madness,” is not worthy of serious attention anymore. Society as a whole has evolved and moved on to more important and pressing issues like the country’s economic anemia and ways to remedy it.

Marijuana’s assimilation into Chicago is a process that needs to be handled gingerly because it can serve as a trial run for the rest of the nation. While there are already several states in the country that have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, Chicago would be a marquee addition because the city would be taking the measure independently rather than the entire state. But more importantly, it will show a more open and creative approach toward urban policing.

Chicago is perpetually included in the “Most Dangerous Cities in America” conversation. With that kind of reputation—which is deserved, to a certain degree—it seems city brass has finally wised up.

I’m always looking for a way to criticize and find flaws in Chicago’s political logic and rationale. But right now—for the first time in a while—I’m at a loss. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough, but I kind of like the whole “I support my local government” feeling I have right now. What a wild concept.