Our view: Support for marijuana citation plan
We remain opposed to the legalization of marijuana in Illinois, even for medicinal purposes.
But we find merit in a proposal by Crystal Lake Police Chief David Linder that would allow city police officers to issue a ticket for possession of a small amount of marijuana rather than make a misdemeanor arrest.
Linder offered his proposal to the City Council recently because he said making arrests for small amounts of marijuana occupies too much of his officers’ time.
According to Linder, making a misdemeanor marijuana arrest requires two officers taking about two hours each to process the case. That means that, on some shifts, one third of available patrol officers are tied up dealing with the arrest, Linder said.
The City Council delayed a vote last week on a proposed ordinance that would allow officers to write a ticket for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana rather than make a misdemeanor arrest.
The tickets would carry a fine of between $500 and $1,000.
Other communities in McHenry County already have similar ordinances. Woodstock began issuing tickets for marijuana possession in 2009, followed by McHenry in 2010.
Mayor Aaron Shepley argued that 30 grams of marijuana is a significant amount, and we agree. If the proposed ordinance comes up for a vote again, a “small amount” should be defined as something less than 30 grams. Chicago approved a similar ordinance in June that put that threshold at 15 grams. In Evanston, it’s even less at 10 grams, which seems more reasonable than 30.
We see no harm in moving forward on Linder’s suggestion. It does not legalize marijuana, it just makes it easier for officers to deal with offenders.
Those who have been charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession rarely serve jail time, anyway.
A fine of $500 for a first offense remains a significant deterrent. And we’ve seen no negative ramifications in Woodstock or McHenry since they put similar ordinances in place.
The proposed ordinance would free up officers’ time to patrol Crystal Lake’s roads and perhaps deter more serious crimes.
We suggest the City Council move forward.