More than 350 tickets for pot possession issued under new ordinance

  • Two football fields of cannabis grow near 107th and Stony Island in the 4th District in Chicago.
Two football fields of cannabis grow near 107th and Stony Island in the 4th… (Heather Charles/ The Chicago…)
January 10, 2013|By Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

More than 350 tickets were written for pot possession since the ordinance decriminalizing marijuana went into effect over the summer, bringing the city nearly $98,000 in fines.

From Aug. 4 through Dec. 25, the city issued 380 citations for possessing up to 15 grams of cannabis, according to data obtained by the RedEye through a Freedom of Information Act request. The month of August saw the most tickets written.

The City Council passed the law decriminalizing marijuana possession on June 27, and it went into effect Aug. 4. Getting busted with small amounts of pot carries a fine starting at $250 and up to $500 for the first offense. A second violation within 30 days comes with a $500 fine.

Once a ticket is issued, it heads to Administrative Hearings Department, a quasi-judicial body that settles parking matters, red-light camera tickets and tickets for using a cell phone while driving.

Of the 380 cases, administrative law judges found 138 of those accused were liable, meaning they violated the ordinance. Nearly all with the exception of two were slapped with a $250 fine.

People failed to show up for 128 cases and all but three were hit with the maximum $500 fine.

The city’s attorney decided not to proceed with 32 cases, and 55 others are pending.

Hearing officers dismissed 27 cases, finding them not responsible for the violation.

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