Chicago police are coming down hard on those believed to be in possession of marijuana. The Illinois-based police force has been routinely handing out drug possession charges for those who are caught with the illicit substance, a crime that has formerly been a ticketing offense. However, this is in opposition to a city ordinance that allows these tickets to be issued in lieu of a stronger charge.

The ordinance was issued in 2012, but since then Chicago has shown the lowest rate of arrest decreases for pot possession of all the cities in the state. Police authorities have gone on record stating that the process of shifting practice to the new ordinance has taken time, and that 5,000 fewer arrests occurred since the ordinance was put in place. However, this comes as scant consolation for those who are being hit with heavy charges instead of a mere ticket.

Authorities have said that the ticket is the more appropriate response for those found in possession of small amounts of the drug, while charges should be reserved for those believed to be trafficking in the substance. And while arrests have dropped considerably, the ratio of arrests to tickets remains constant, around 2 to 1. This is important information for citizens in the city and the state over.

Drug possession can take on many forms, but in the case of a personal amount, Illinois authorities have spoken — the ticket is the best response. Those who are arrested for these sorts of minor violations may wish to seek out additional support and resources ahead of a court date. It is possible to argue such a charge based on the current city ordinance in place.

Source: politics.suntimes.com, “Chicago cops likely to arrest – not ticket – for pot possession”, Becky Schlikerman, May 19, 2014