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*** UPDATED x1 *** CPD: Your home is not your castle

Thursday, Dec 5, 2019

* You just knew this would happen

Chicagoans caught smoking weed on front porches and in backyards — even high-rise balconies — that are visible to the public could still face fines after the drug is legalized next year, Chicago police say.

But Chicago cops are being encouraged to explain the new law to residents caught violating it rather than take punitive measures right away, particularly in the initial months. […]

Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, nevertheless raised concerns about the CPD policy. He noted that the law shouldn’t be enforced against those using cannabis in places that are “clearly out of the view of the street,” like backyards and enclosed porches.

“The spirit of the law and the letter of the law in terms of the state law is the notion that as long as whatever behavior is happening is out of public view, it wouldn’t be subject to any kind of punishment,” Yohnka said. “Because they’re expanding what is sort of the spirit of the law, it just provides for more opportunities for enforcement.”

Yohnka also worries that ticketing and enforcement related to cannabis will continue to disproportionately affect people of color. Though the number of pot arrests has plummeted since the city decriminalized weed, a Sun-Times analysis last year found that African-Americans continued to bear the brunt of that enforcement.

From that above-referenced Sun-Times analysis

In 2017 and the first four months of 2018, 94 people were busted in Chicago for petty marijuana possession. Seventy-six of them were black. Sixteen were Hispanic. Two were white.

Discuss.

*** UPDATE *** Statement from Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim CPD Superintendent Charlie Beck…

Righting this City’s generation-old wrongs and overturning the unjust, cannabis enforcement laws of our past has been at the heart of our efforts since day one, which is why we’ve taken the important step forward in reducing overly punitive fines and fees for minor cannabis violations by passing a smart, sensible and safe cannabis enforcement ordinance that truly prioritizes public safety of all residents in this City.

While the state law prohibits cannabis consumption in a “public place,” which is defined as anywhere you can be observed by others in the public, the Chicago Police Department recognizes that an individual using cannabis in their own backyard or balcony poses no direct threat to public safety, and no resident should be arrested or ticketed solely for such a scenario. Any characterization to the contrary is simply wrong. Over the past several months and throughout December, all 13,000 of Chicago’s police officers are being trained on the reformed cannabis enforcement laws, including how they should use discretion of their enforcement powers to educate residents on the new legalization laws, rather than issuing tickets as a default response.

As we prepare for legalization next year, the Mayor’s Office and CPD are wholeheartedly committed to working in partnership with Chicago’s community advocates and leaders to ensure that the days of unfair and unequal targeted enforcement for low-level cannabis violations have come to an end.

Good for them.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

30 Comments
  1. - Practical Politics - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:43 pm:

    What Willie Nelson said.


  2. - Ok - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    They noticed the couple lighting up on their front porch when they were responding to a call of a broken window….


  3. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    I thought it was only an ordinance violation in Chicago anyway. Resulting in a ticket. I suppose it could be used as probable cause for a search. Foxx should just decline prosecution. If it is legal then you should be able to us it at home and in your yard. I have heard d Condo association may have a problem and ban it if odors go on the o hallway or adjoining units


  4. - DS - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    I’ve already contacted my alderman about an ordinance barring CPD from citing the lawful use of cannabis on private property. This is outrageous.


  5. - Dotnonymous - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    I’ll be enjoying cannabis anywhere I please on my own property…subject to arrest.

    The end of prohibition?…hardly.


  6. - R A T - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    No. NO. and “heck” no.

    If someone lives in an apartment complex and can smoke pot, I want them smoking on the balcony and not in with the kids.


  7. - Thomas Paine - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:52 pm:

    Rich -

    From the same story:

    “We’re going to treat [cannabis] like cigarettes or alcohol.” - Police Dept. Spokesperson

    Um, last time I checked, the CPD did not ticket folks for smoking Marlboros on their front porch.

    Also, last time I checked, Chicago Police Department had better things to do than harass folks hanging out on their porches with friends.

    Wrong priorities.


  8. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    This is a non-problem. Odors, however, is a real issue (another reason why the anti-vaping movement should take a pause as that is a good outdoor solutions). People should be free NOT to have their apartments reek of weed.


  9. - pc - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:03 pm:

    i think police would need to get a warrant before they were able to enter private property to give you a ticket. They could mail you a ticket, I suppose.


  10. - Moby - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:13 pm:

    So, honest question. If a law-abiding citizen chooses to partake in the newly legal product, but doesn’t want to smoke inside their home, where can/should they partake? Can bars allow consumption in beer gardens and smoking areas?


  11. - Rod - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:13 pm:

    NBC five ran this today:

    Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck issued a joint statement Thursday saying that while state law prohibits cannabis consumption in any “public place,” which is defined as “anywhere you can be observed by others in the public,” CPD believes someone using marijuana “in their own backyard or balcony poses no direct threat to public safety.” So no tickets for smoking pot in the backyard.


  12. - Lynn S. - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:20 pm:

    2 steps forward, 76 steps back.

    CPD-from topmost brass to lowliest file clerks-needs a math class regarding fractions and ratios.

    Then they need a class discussing how white folks use drugs at the same rate (or slightly higher) than black folks.

    Then they all need another math class to discuss what the S-T highlighted, and what steps they’re going to implement to fix this.


  13. - Cheryl44 - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:29 pm:

    You can’t smoke in bars anymore.

    You should be able to smoke anywhere on your own property unless your apartment/condo building is smokefree.


  14. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    To piggyback on Moby’s question; will is also be illegal to consume edibles in public? I don’t see any potential harm to the public there.


  15. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:34 pm:

    “the Chicago Police Department recognizes that an individual using cannabis in their own backyard or balcony poses no direct threat to public safety, and no resident should be arrested or ticketed solely for such a scenario”

    That’s the right thinking. Hoping the CPD lives up to these words. Go after serious crimes instead, there are way more than enough of those.


  16. - lincoln's beard - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:53 pm:

    This is really just some terrible legislative drafting:

    > As used in this Section, “public place” means any place where a person could reasonably be expected to be observed by others.

    This is everywhere on earth, except single-occupant bathrooms.


  17. - lincoln's beard - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:56 pm:

    … and note that it’s not even “where a person could reasonably expect to be observed”, it’s “where a person could reasonably be expected to be observed” - expected by whom, we might well ask.


  18. - Jose Abreu's Next Homerun - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 2:57 pm:

    I haven’t heard how they plan to protect CHA residents that may lose their housing if caught with weed on their residence since federal law and public housing is federally funded. Guessing we’ll leave that to ATF agents??? I just don’t know yet.


  19. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:13 pm:

    “a Sun-Times analysis last year found that African-Americans continued to bear the brunt of that enforcement”

    Evanston will have a reparations fund for African-Americans, from its marijuana tax revenue. It is TBD how it will be used.

    https://news.yahoo.com/us-city-pay-reparations-african-144159498.html


  20. - Donnie Elgin - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:17 pm:

    your employer doesn’t care where you smoke up. JB just signed a new bill that reaffirms employees/applicants can be denied a job or fired for a hot test…

    “actions taken pursuant to an employer’s reasonable workplace drug policy, including but not limited to subjecting an employee or applicant to reasonable drug and alcohol testing, reasonable and nondiscriminatory random drug testing, and discipline, termination of employment, or withdrawal of a job offer due to a failure of a drug test”


  21. - Langhorne - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:22 pm:

    The mayor and chief issued a “ joint” statement……
    Wheres my bong?


  22. - Groucho - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 3:38 pm:

    So if I’m smoking inside my house and the window shades are up, I could be arrested.


  23. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 4:44 pm:

    While that’s all well and good for Chicago, I’m 100% certain that this will not be the approach in suburbs and other places.

    Out here in Will county, the local police set up stake-outs on garden centers, and have been able to get search warrants, including to raid peoples homes with a SWAT team, based on nothing more than walking out of a gardening store with a bag of purchased items. All that, and they found about 3grams of cannabis in the art supply box of a middle-aged woman living in the house that was raided.

    If someone has even the odor of cannabis coming from their private residence, it will happen that local police go for a search warrant with probable cause that more than the legal limit is present in the house.

    There are going to be profoundly ugly stories that come out next year, when the whims of local police departments who already don’t want this to happen are combined with their in-the-back-pocket judges already known for signing off on ludicrous search warrants.

    I’d like to be wrong. Unfortunately, experience with many small towns and various suburban police departments has shown that I’m not going to be.


  24. - Just Observing - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:06 pm:

    === i think police would need to get a warrant before they were able to enter private property to give you a ticket. ===

    If you are standing on your lawn smoking a joint and the police approach you, they don’t need a warrant. Now, if you see them coming and you go inside and lock the door, I imagine they’ll need a search warrant and I would have a hard time thinking a Judge would issue a warrant for something otherwise legal, especially if the police officer can’t say whether or not s/he smelled it as it could be tobacco or just about anything.


  25. - Maryjane - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:17 pm:

    After my evening walk, if it’s not too cold, I love a smoke in my backyard under the stars. Golly what an o.g outlaw I am. Sheesh.


  26. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 5:48 pm:

    >>I would have a hard time thinking a Judge would issue a warrant for something otherwise legal

    I can understand why some people would have a hard time thinking a judge could be so flippant. However, I can’t stress this enough that there are plenty of judges who will sign off on such a warrant without hesitation.

    Links might get filtered, but here is the news story from 2014;

    During his stakeout, the agent noticed Kirking “exit the front door of the store carrying a green plastic bag containing unknown items.”

    Kirking said the green plastic bag held organic fertilizer she bought for her hybrid hibiscus She needs to use organic fertilizer, she explained, because she eats the plant and does not want to be poisoned.

    The agent tailed Kirking from Midwest Hydroganics back to her place in Shorewood and later got his hands on her electric bills from February 2013 through September. Compared to two of her neighbors, the bills were “consistently higher,” according to the complaint for the search warrant.

    The agent maintained in the complaint, he knew through his “experience (that) persons involved in the cultivation of marijuana utilize a large supply of electricity to cultivate the plants during the growing cycles.”

    A warrant was issued because a middle-aged woman exited a garden store with a bag of organic fertilizer, and had higher electric bills than 2 of her neighbors(out of dozens of other neighbors). Her home was raided by a SWAT team at 4:50am.

    No grow operation was ever found at the residence.

    Do not underestimate what some of these local police departments and their friendly judges will continue to do.


  27. - Maryjane - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 6:33 pm:

    - TheInvisibleMan

    I’ve recently read a story about a similar situation in Chicago, early ’10s; an individual was tailed home from a hydro store and did get busted with a grow.

    The good news: It’s pretty much all on Amazon these days and you’ll receive it in a day or two.


  28. - TheInvisibleMan - Thursday, Dec 5, 19 @ 10:01 pm:

    >>>The good news: It’s pretty much all on Amazon

    You mean that company that more and more police departments are signing partnerships with for warrantless access to their Ring video doorbell videos?


  29. - Flynn's Mom - Friday, Dec 6, 19 @ 9:32 am:

    Smoke em if you’ve got em.


  30. - Maryjane - Friday, Dec 6, 19 @ 11:41 am:

    - TheInvisibleMan:

    Yes, Amazon (love or hate it). I’m not making it up. Please take a look at it yourself if you suspect I’m being facetious. And yes it’s been infinitely more efficient than the alternative for purchasing grow supplies and equipment. As far as the doorbell thing: I don’t know what to tell you. My better half worked for Amazon in the software/hardware development (what the NYT said about how they treat their developers is true btw)when they were doing Alexa and its predecessor and we didn’t find them to be anything but annoying. But to each their own; some people like gadgets, privacy or good sense be damned.

    As far as home growing there will be a new landscape here shortly. It’s happened in many other states and the sky hasn’t fallen. I encourage each patient to grow. Not only is it possible to have enough Cannabis to meet one’s needs, the act of growing, learning, and even making errors (where you are likely to learn the most) is in, of itself a healing and joyous experience that is edifying and spiritually uplifting.


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