If Only Chicago Police Treated All Marijuana Smokers As If They Were Deadheads

Tens of thousands of fans of the Grateful Dead traveled to Chicago for the final three reunion concerts, which the band’s “core four” musicians will likely ever perform. Police knew numerous fans would smoke marijuana. However, police only made one arrest for cannabis possession in violation of the city’s ordinance against public weed consumption.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Chicago Police officers made only one arrest for possession of cannabis on Friday and wrote only two possession of cannabis tickets Sunday in connection with the concerts.”

“While in most cases cannabis possession is a ticketable offense, as residents would expect CPD’s primary focus was on fighting violent crime and addressing the illegal guns that threaten our communities,” Chicago Police Department communications director Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement emailed to the Sun-Times.

This could be considered common sense policing if it were not for the fact that the Deadheads in attendance were primarily white. Tickets for the “Fare Thee Well” concerts at Soldier Field were not necessarily cheap and ranged from $59.50-$199.50. So, many of the fans were from the middle and upper class.

In March, the Sun-Times reported that blacks were “busted 16 times more than whites for small amounts of pot in 2014—including tickets and arrests. And four every white Chicagoan busted for marijuana, four Hispanics were busted, according to police statistics. Those stats come despite the fact that white Chicagoans outnumber both black and Hispanic Chicagoans by a ratio of approximately 3-to-2.”

Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100, told the Sun-Times, “It’s hyper-surveillance and harassment for what shouldn’t even be an offense. No one should be arrested for having 15 grams of marijuana or less. Even the cost of a ticket could throw someone into a very difficult situation.”

Citations can range from $250 to $500.

The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy put out a report in May 2014 that showed all of the neighborhoods in the top 20 percent for marijuana arrests, except for one, was “majority black.”

According to the FBI, Cook County, where Chicago is located, had the “biggest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests among the 25 most populous counties in the nation in 2010.” (more…)