Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked the Illinois state legislature Tuesday to decriminalize marijuana possession and to make all arrests for those caught with one gram or less of any drug a misdemeanor instead of a felony.
“It’s time, in my view, to free up our criminal justice system to address our real public safety challenges and build on the progress that has been made,” Emmanuel told lawmakers, the Chicago Tribune reports. Emanuel is looking to expand upon a Chicago law passed in 2012 that made possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a ticketable offense.
Emanuel, who’s up for reelection next year, said the plan will save taxpayer money. Emanuel’s office estimates that Chicago police officers spent almost 275,000 hours on low-level narcotics arrests, even though less than 10% resulted in guilty verdicts. Emanuel’s office says about 7,000 people are arrested every year in Chicago for possession of one gram or less of drugs.