(Chicago Reader) On November 2, 25th Ward alderman Danny Solis responded by proposing a city ordinance that would let police issue tickets for the possession of ten grams of pot or less. Officers would still have the option of making full arrests, but Solis said the law could help narrow the grass gap—the fact is that while marijuana is widely used in neighborhoods across the city, African-Americans account for 78 percent of those arrested, 89 percent of those convicted, and 92 percent of those jailed for low-level possession in Chicago.
Twenty-six other aldermen signed on as cosponsors. Solis said that he hoped the council would hold hearings on the proposal as soon as November or December.
From November 2 to January 29, Chicago police made at least 4,480 arrests for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It was by far the largest category of arrest during that time. Each arrest took two officers off the street for at least an hour and a half and led to $2,500 or more in court costs. This leads to an annual tab of at least $78 million for low-level pot busts, though nine of every ten cases are thrown out of court.
Apparently no price is too high to keep roughing up and arresting young black males in Chicago over pot. That’s 13,440 police man-hours in addition to that $78 million tab to take one out of ten arrests to court. Another way to look at it: each marijuana arrest cost $17,410. It is probably cheaper for the city to just buy all the marijuana in Chicago.