Hey Mayor Emanuel, Can my teen smoke pot as long as I pay the ticket?

Chicago Mayor, Rahm Emanuel is expected to support a proposal that will allow police officers to ticket people who are caught with small amounts of marijuana.  What does this mean for our children?  Marijuana is an illegal substance in Chicago and the Mayor plans to remove the serious ramifications for possessing it.  How many kids will smoke pot now that there is no real punishment for smoking or possessing it?  A $100 ticket is not a real punishment for having an illegal substance.  This proposal will give kids a clear indication that its ok to smoke pot.  The legal system in Chicago is now passing the buck to save money.

How are parents supposed to explain this to their kids?  "Hey little Johnny, yesterday you could get arrested for smoking pot, but today I'm stuck with a $100 ticket and you don't get arrested.  You are going to have to work to pay this money back and you are grounded!"

Picture this Mayor Emanuel, a group of teenagers standing on the corner after school, smoking pot.  A police officer approaches and they freely offer their school IDs and accept their tickets.  Good luck finding the parents to collect the ticket fines.  The effects of marijuana use vary by individual.  Some of the effects include, loss of coordination, memory, judgement, perception and decision making.  The city has saved some money but what if these students get into a car to drive home and have an accident because they are under the influence of pot? Is the Mayor and the city going to be held accountable?

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse the number of teens using marijuana has increased since the last study in 2006. The 2011 Monitoring The Future Study found that 7.2% of eighth graders, 17.6% of tenth graders and 22.6% of twelfth graders had used marijuana a month prior to the survey. This study also stated that in 2011, 6.6% of 12th graders reported using marijuana daily.  Let's keep these figures in mind and see if they continue to increase in Chicago with our punishment for marijuana possession reduced to that of a traffic violation.

If this proposal passes, we are telling our children that possessing pot is like running a red light or a stop sign. You just pay the fine and go about your business.

Mr. Mayor, you disappoint me.

poll by twiigs.com


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  • There is a very easy solution for parents of teens who get busted and ticketed.

    Don't pay the ticket.

    Make your teenager earn the money themselves; mowing lawns, working at McDonalds, whatever it takes (babysitting might not be a good idea though). If they aren't willing to do that, then they face the consequences of the unpaid ticket, which could be anything from an even BIGGER ticket to eventual jail time.

    The reality is, as it stands now, if an officer rolls up on your teenager smoking a joint with his buddies, they're going to have to call for backup. I know it sounds silly, needing at least four officers to arrest one scrawny kid, but it's procedure and it's required to keep officers safe (just in case your kid is the one with the gun).

    So while those four officers are out dealing with the kid with the weed, a shop gets robbed, a lady gets her purse stolen, and maybe someone gets seriously hurt in an attack. Because the local police were busy rounding up, arresting, and bringing in, teenagers with marijuana.

    That's not fair. It's not fair to law-abiding citizens who become crime victims due to the lack of police; it's not fair to the officers who inevitably take the blame; and at the risk of saying something very unpopular, it's not fair to the adults who get jailtime for a non-violent crime while perps who beat people over the head for their iPhones walk away.

    All the ticketing law will mean is that parents will have to take more personal responsibility for their teenagers' behavior. There are a lot of things teenagers shouldn't be doing that the police don't send them to jail for. Soon, there will be one more.

  • We need MORE police officers!! We can't continue to ignore or reduce punishment for legitimate crimes because there are not enough resources. My fear is that more teens will try pot because the punishment is no longer a deterent.

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    In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Your concern is truly understandable. My stepson is 17, and I worry every day that he will find himself on the wrong end of the law and hurt his chances for the future. But looking at objective, scientific research, it is apparent that harsher sanctions have not significantly reduced marijuana use, and in places where tickets have been implemented (over 90 municipalities in Illinois alone have gone to this strategy), use has not increased. Basically, sanctions and use (at least as far as marijuana is concerned) are unrelated.

    Let me reiterate: I don't want to see Chicago overrun by criminals or drug dealers any more than anyone else. But we have had too many years of criminal justice policies which have been based on fear and rhetoric, and which have ignored evidence of their general failure. What we really need is an evidence-based approach.

  • Hey Tracy, let me give you some help.

    "Hey little Johnny, yesterday you could get arrested for smoking pot, but today you'll only get a $100 ticket. That means your entire future won't be compromised by having a narcotics conviction on your record, and you can still get student loans and go to college, then get a good job when you graduate and be a productive member of society.

    But maybe it's time for us to talk about marijuana and why it's not good for you to smoke it. Marijuana is an intoxicant like booze, and intoxicating substances like alcohol and cannabis should only be consumed by responsible adults who have the ability to understand when they have had enough.

    Furthermore little Johnny, years of research by a doctor named Raphael Mechoulam and his co-workers have demonstrated that marijuana has an immense amount of potential as medicine. Did you know that 17 states now allow sick people to use marijuana to treat their medical condition? That's right, marijuana can actually be used as medicine.

    That's why you shouldn't smoke marijuana or drink little Johnny, because you're healthy, and because you have so much to learn about life and how your body works before you start experimenting with intoxicating substances. But if you choose to go down that rocky road, please choose marijuana over alcohol. Marijuana may make you act silly, but alcohol could kill you!

    You understand now boy, don'tcha? I'm not busting your balls, I just love you and care about you. Me and your ma don't want to get a call in the middle of the night that you are hurt or dead, do you know what that would do to us? Good, now how's your science project coming along? Could you use some help from your old pa? Let's grab a sandwich and see if we can't get you an "A" on that time machine you're building. We should also take a few minutes to write Mayor Emanuel and thank him for protecting your future."

    It's actually very easy Tracy. You just need to be honest with your kids. If more people were a larger part of their children's life, NIDA could be dismantled to save billions of taxpayer dollars. Talking to kids about marijuana is good, but spending time with your kids is the best way to keep them away from intoxicating substances. Government policies and laws won't deter kids from alcohol, marijuana and drugs, only good parenting can keep little Johnny on the right road.

  • In reply to Brad Forrester:

    I agree that parents need to be more involved but the reality is that even good kids will make mistakes. I think this will entice more kids to try pot because the scary consequence has been removed.

    When people are promoting the use of marijuana for medical purposes they are not sending the right message to our young people because they are not telling the whole story. They are not clear in their message. Kids don't think that pot can be harmful to them.

    I think that a combination of policies, laws and parenting will keep kids on the right road. Some kids are more afraid of the legal consequences than their parents so we need both. Our legal system is in place to deter bad behavior.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    I promote the legalization of cannabis precisely because of the harm our present policies are causing to people of every age. When a 15 year old gets busted with cannabis, their lives are altered forever. Upon conviction they are un-eligible for student loans and are shunned by employers. That message is very clear, we don’t want or need you! What does that do for a young persons self-confidence, and how will it shape their view of their future? It’s disgusting to me that we (Americans) treat our young people that way. Nobody, especially developing children, should have to endure societal stigmatization that has such a negative impact on their lives and leads to complete social withdrawal. That’s simply bad policy!

    Who cares what message medical marijuana advocates espouse, kids get bad messages all the time, that’s why parenting is such an important part of the equation of raising children. Kids see beer commercials all the time. Scantily-clad sexy women are a staple of advertising. The US is one of only two countries in the world that allow pharmaceutical companies to advertise on TV. The ads they run are akin to the Joe Camel ads run by tobacco several years ago, all animated with slick graphics, and a list of disclaimers in print so small that nobody can read them. According to the CDC, 36,000 people died in 2008 as a result of drug overdose, most caused by prescription painkillers (http://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/rxbrief/). They kill people, skew their message, and it’s not only condoned by a government addicted to the cash that industry contributes to campaigns, but it’s accepted by people who believe that same government is protecting them. Very convoluded!

    Now if you still believe that kids need protection from medical marijuana advocates sending an incomplete message, I ask you to look around and notice the very real and imminent threats that are less recognizable but far more dangerous, and located within spitting distance of your kids. Where do you keep your medication? Is it safe from the exploration of a questioning teen mind? Medical marijuana advocates and messages have far less influence on children than their parents do. Parents need to make time for their children, be a part of their kid’s life, and no government policy can mandate that. Wake up parents, take your kid(s) out to eat and start talking. They will open up when they understand that your concern stems from love and not meanness.

    This is a nice discussion!

  • Seriously? What is our world coming to? Shame, shame on you Mr. Mayor.

  • In reply to Chef Jody:

    I think issue is about saving city resources and its creating a bad situation for kids in the process. When my neighbors and I call the police about various things, they aren't too interested unless someone is committing a serious crime. We are due the same services as everyone else in high crime neighborhoods.

  • I disagree, Tracy. If my kids got caught with pot I would be upset and they would be punished. But I would be equally upset if it was alcohol or cigarettes. Both of those are illegal for them as well. A fine of $100.00 is a big deal. That's a lot of money in my house, and you can bet that kid is paying it him/herself. Marijuana needs to be legalized, especially medicinally, and let's tax the heck out of it. But I truly believe its no more and likely less dangerous than the other insane intoxicants kids will try; huffing anyone?
    Is it wrong for kids to be caught with pot? Absolutely. Is it MORE wrong than being caught with many other, potentially more dangerous items? Personally, I don't think so.

  • In reply to RZhao:

    I agree that kids have gotten creative in their methods of getting high. They are all bad and we should all raise our kids to steer clear of them. I don't think that we should reduce the punishment for engaging in illegal activity.

    I don't believe that we should out right legallize pot. I do support its use medicinally but that's it. It should be regulated how, when and where you can use it if it is for medical reasons.

    I think this issue is about saving city resources and not about anyone's right to smoke pot.

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    That is where you are wrong, Tracy. In Holland, the use rate for youths is 1/3 the use rate of U.S. youths. Marijuana is sold at coffee shops there. The reason we are having this debate is that 75 years of prohibition in the U.S. has not reduced supply or demand. Just like alcohol prohibition, marijuana prohibition creates contempt for the law in general. Besides, your prohibition keeps the cops from going after murderers and robbers. Using marijuana is a consensual crime, and the cops shouldn't wast their time on it.

  • When I first heard about this report on the radio, I was surprised at first, but then realized this city is in the business of getting money. This is just their latest attempt. I didn't necessarily think when hearing this news that it gives minors a free pass to go out and buy and conceal weed because the punishment has decreased. I don't know the proposed law word for word, but I'd assume that at some point, there is an age cutoff that a kid would be apprehended because of their minor status.

    I'd also point out that Parenting and teaching 'Lil John(ny)' whats right and wrong. If he's smoking using your rolling papers...the Mayor isn't the problem...oh...and one final word of Advise...don't let 'Big Johnny' try the 'beat some sense into lil' johnny' technique...that might land you in jail!

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    "The effects of marijuana use vary by individual. Some of the effects include, loss of coordination, memory, judgement, perception and decision making."

    Tracy - I think you may want to fight the legality of alcohol in the city of Chicago because as scary as it sounds, those are the same effects alcohol have on individuals!

    Make sure you hide any beer you may have at arms reach in your fridge because little Johnny could easily grab a few, jump in a car with his friends drink it and then drive home, get in an accident and kill a few innocent people or he may die and how could you live with that knowing its your fault that you didn't lock your fridge and prevent him from drinking and driving. But it's Rahm's fault, and Daley's fault and every other politician for keeping it legal all these years.

    You're not going to keep kids, or adults for that matter, from experimenting with illegal substances that get them high or drunk. The scariest part is they're going for things that are man made as opposed to grown from a seed, like marijuana, and the effects are unpredictable.

    Find a hobby Tracy. Worry about something else in life other than a plant that is used around the world for medicinal and recreational purposes. There's a lot worse happening in this world than people smoking a joint and in turn, laughing, being creative and then going to a 7-11 for nachos at 2 in the morning.

    Don't panic, it's organic.

  • In reply to Bos Alvertos:

    Bos Alvertos, I have a hobby and it is trying to help youth who don't have good parents that will teach them right from wrong. There are kids in the world with a lot of potential. I want to make sure (as best as I can) that they don't fall prey to all of the bad stuff. I wrote this blog, not out of concern for my biological children but for the teenagers that I try to help on a daily basis.

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    It's called parents need to take responsibility and not give up rights for everybody so that the police can be nannies for their kids. You need to talk to your kids honestly about pot without asking for a police state.

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    Just by the fact that you are talking about having to pay the ticket means that you have no control over your kids. You would rather have the police lock your kids up then deal with them yourself.

  • In reply to Jimmy Smith:

    Jimmy, I encourage you to read my other blogs because you will know that I am a hardass parent. I volunteer at a public high school and there are plenty of kids who don't have parents like me and my husband. I wrote this blog out of concern for them. It's ok to disagree without getting so personal. Thanks for reading!

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    In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    LOL six percent say no....

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