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Chicago City Council passes pot ordinance

Local GovernmentJustice SystemInterior PolicyGun ControlChicago City CouncilPersonal Weapon Control

The Chicago City Council overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana possession.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s  proposal passed 43-3, allowing Chicago police to issue pot-possession tickets as soon as July. The move makes Chicago among a growing wave of states and several of the largest U.S. cities to adopt reduced penalties.

The ordinance gives Chicago police the discretion to issue citations between $250 to $500 for someone with 15 grams or less of pot.

Chicago officers would continue to arrest people caught smoking marijuana or carrying it on park or school grounds. Authorities also would arrest anyone younger than 17 caught with pot or anyone they believed was trying to sell the drug.

Handguns and food trucks were also on the Chicago City Council agenda  Wednesday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel will introduce some proposed revisions to the city's firearm ordinance. The Mayor now wants anyone with a violent misdemeanor conviction to be banned from getting a gun permit for five years. He also wants a life-long ban for violent convicted felons.

The changes followed a federal ruling that struck down a portion of the city's gun law. A federal judge called the section vague and unconstitutional.

Councilmen will also hear the proposed ordinance for the city's food trucks. That ordinance would create zones where food trucks could park for up to two hours. The trucks would also carry GPS devices so the city can track vehicle locations. The food trucks would also be required to do business at least 200-feet away from restaurants.

The measure would also allow vendors to operate a mobile kitchen and cook fresh meals inside the truck.

The full city council is expected to vote today on the Mayor's plan to reduce arrests for marijuana offenses. The plan allows police to issue tickets to anyone 17 and older, who is caught with less than 15 grams of pot. Fines would range from $250 to $500 dollars. The Mayor has said this move will save money and free up police to pursue more serious crimes across the city.

The plan could take effect sometime next month, if it is approved by the city council Wednesday.

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