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Effective immediately, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez will stop prosecuting any person caught 30 grams of marijuana or less on the first or second offense.

“What we are doing is simply not working.”

Alvarez stated yesterday morning.

She noted the large amounts of money and time spent cycling low level marijuana offenders in and out of the prison system. That said, offenders who carry a third possession offense will be sent to drug school. Alvarez noted the an approach of “treatment instead of traditional prosecution.”

She said the county is spending too much money and time cycling offenders in and out of the system. Moving forward, offenders charged with a low-level marijuana felony will be routed to an alternative prosecution program.

Offenders charged with a Class 4 felony who have a non-violent history will be routed to social service agencies for drug abuse treatment. If the offender completes the program, and the charges are dropped.

“In drug school, the success is phenomenal. Ninety-percent of the people complete it and around 85-percent don’t have further drug arrests.”

Pam Rodriguez, Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) CEO said.

“I am not promoting any drug use. I am not promoting legalization of anything,” said Alvarez. “We have to ask ourselves are we being smart here? Are we giving people services they need? Or are we going to continue processing these cases?”

Several communities across the nation have already decriminalized marijuana possession by issuing tickets instead of filing criminal charges in low level cases.

Alvarez stated those tickets will count as an arrest and offenders will be required to pay fines.

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