The Chicago City Council [official website] on Wednesday voted to decriminalize [press release; materials] the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the new ordinance, police officers may issue tickets to individuals found to be in possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel [official website] earlier this month expressed his support [press release] for the ordinance, which he said would allow "ultimately [free] up police officers for the street." Emanuel said he spoke with police authorities before endorsing the ordinance. The new law will take effect 30 days from its passage, and supporters say it will raise revenue for the city [Reuters report] as well as allow police more freedom to pursue violent criminals.
Marijuana use has created legal controversy in the US in recent years. In May, the Connecticut Senate passed a bill [JURIST report] allowing citizens to obtain marijuana for medical use under certain conditions, making Connecticut the seventeenth state to allow sale of marijuana for medical use. Other states that have passed similar laws have run into trouble with conflicting federal laws regulating the production and sale of marijuana. In March, a federal court dismissed a suit [JURIST report] challenging US attorneys' authority to prosecute medical marijuana providers in California, saying the federal attorneys do have this authority. In January, the US District Court for the District of Montana ruled [JURIST report] that the state's laws allowing the sale of medical marijuana did not protect dispensers from federal prosecution. Connecticut has nevertheless been taking steps toward legalization of marijuana. Last year, the state passed a law [JURIST report] decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana.