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11 people ticketed under city’s new pot ordinance

Updated: September 8, 2012 6:17AM

Ronald Crawley, a South Sider who works as a telemarketer, became the first person ticketed under Chicago’s new pot ordinance.

Crawley said he bought water Saturday at a gas station near 103th and Sangamon in the East Beverly neighborhood and called his girlfriend for a ride. But a headlight was out on her car and police stopped them.

“The police shined their lights on me and they saw a ‘blunt’ in the ashtray,” said Crawley, 24. “It was nothing but half an old blunt.”

A blunt is a cigarette or cigar packed with marijuana.

Crawley said he spent about an hour and a half in the Morgan Park police station as his ticket processed, then he was released.

“It was better than spending a night in jail,” he said.

Crawley said he doesn’t know how much the ticket will cost.

Chicago Police officers issued 11 tickets — officially called administrative notices of ordinance violations — over the weekend, a department spokeswoman said. The tickets were issued all over the city, but none at Lollapalooza, police said.

The debate over decriminalizing pot in Chicago got serious attention in 2004.

At a news conference, Mayor Richard M. Daley embraced Chicago Police Sgt. Tom Donegan’s idea to issue tickets for pot.

The mayor pointed to research Donegan had gathered that showed most criminal charges involving petty marijuana possession were tossed out of the court system in 2002.

The proposal languished until June, when the City Council voted 43-3 in favor of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to issue $250 to $500 pot tickets. The ordinance took effect Saturday.

Officers have the option of issuing tickets to anyone caught with 15 grams of pot or less. The maximum fine will be assessed against anyone hit with a second citation within a 30-day period.

The city sees pot tickets as a revenue generator and a way to keep cops on the street to deal with more serious crimes.

But police still have the option of arresting people on a misdemeanor marijuana possession charge punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine.

Contributing: Mark Konkol

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