Vice Squad
Monday, September 20, 2004
Return to a Changed Chicago?

Apologies to the loyal Vice Squad reader for my absence since Wednesday. I was in London for the changing of the Batman. (I think I read that somewhere but forget the source -- apologies to the unnamed lender.) But now I am back in Chicago, to find that a police sergeant, Tom Donegan, has publicly raised the possibility of no longer arresting people for possession of small quantities of marijuana. (Chicago Tribune article here, registration required.) This was the very change that much of the UK adopted when marijuana was reclassified last January. This suggestion is really a judge-led reform, in that the Sergeant has noted that judges routinely dismiss charges stemming from small pot possession arrests. And while it is usually legalizers who point to potential government revenues as a reason to end drug prohibition, in this case, Sergeant Donegan is noting that decriminalization could serve a similar end: "Donegan said assessing fines of $250 for possession of 10 grams or less would have raised $5 million for the city's coffers in 2003."

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