Portage Park: Chicago's Marijuana Ticket Hot Spot

By Heather Cherone on January 21, 2013 8:33am | Updated on January 21, 2013 9:42am

 A total of 53 tickets for pot possession were issued in the Portage Park neighborhood — the most in any city neighborhood.
A total of 53 tickets for pot possession were issued in the Portage Park neighborhood — the most in any city neighborhood.
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DNAInfo/Heather Cherone

CHICAGO — Since the city began issuing tickets instead of making arrests for small amounts of marijuana, Portage Park has topped all other neighborhoods in marijuana citations, according to city records.

Ald. Tim Cullerton (38th) and Ald. John Arena (45th) said the high number of tickets issued in their wards, which are part of the Jefferson Park Police District, surprised them.

“This is an example of the officers of the 16th District doing their job,” Arena said. “They are keeping their eyes open and using an enforcement tool that seems to be working as intended."

Portage Park had the highest number of tickets issued in Chicago since an ordinance decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis took effect in August. The data released by city officials included arrests through Dec. 24.

Fifty-three tickets were issued in the Jefferson Park Police District, stretching from Belmont Avenue to Lawrence Avenue and Cicero Avenue to Narragansett Avenue, according to a report from Jefferson Park District Cmdr. James O’Donnell.

Thirty-three of those tickets, which come with a $250 to $500 fine, were issued to people who do not live in Portage Park or on the Northwest Side, according to the report.

That could mean the tickets were issued to drivers on their way to or from the Kennedy or Edens expressways, which crisscross the Northwest Side, Cullerton said.

“Other districts may have different priorities,” Arena said. “There are not a lot of hardened criminals in Portage Park.”

Citywide, 380 tickets were issued for possessing up to 15 grams of cannabis. About 4,700 people were arrested for cannabis possession from August to December, down about 50 percent from the same time a year ago, before the new law went into effect, according to data compiled by the city.

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