Evanston aldermen later this month are expected to discuss a proposal from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to have police issue traffic-ticket like citations to persons caught with small quantities of marijuana.

Evanston aldermen later this month are expected to discuss a proposal from Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl to have police issue traffic-ticket like citations to persons caught with small quantities of marijuana.

Those found with less than 10 grams of pot — about one-third of an ounce — now are charged with a misdemeanor that, upon conviction, leads to a permanent criminal record and can result in a penalties of up to $1,500 and six months in jail.

Tisdahl says such a record “follows the person for the rest of their lives and makes it hard for them to get a job.”

She says the issue primarily affects young African-American males, who already face an especially hard time in the labor force.

“So if we’re trying to reduce crime and help people get jobs, it will help to have them not getting a criminal record for a minor drug law violation,” the mayor said in an interview with Evanston Now.

She said the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee she apppointed has concluded such a change in the law would be a great improvement.

She said the new law in Evanston would bring the city in line with another college town, Ann Arbor, where possession of small quantities of pot has been penalized with a ticket and a fine, now $25, for the past four decades.

Evanston’s city code already provides police the option of issuing tickets for possession of small quantities of marijuana, but, except in the case of minors, current police practice is to charge the offenses under the more severe state law.

Police Chief Richard Eddington said he didn’t have statistics immediately available on the number of marijuana arrests by ethnic group.

But he said it’s clear that the chances of someone being arrested for drug use are tied to economic status. Young people in less well-off neighborhoods are more likely to hang out on street corners where they are visible to police, while people in more affluent neighborhoods live more of their lives behind closed doors where police are very unlikely to learn what they’re doing.

“If you understand how policing works,” Eddington said, “if you are engaging in activities publicly — in the street or alley — versus doing it in your living room, your chances are much higher of coming into contact with officers.”

And, the chief said, the police have to respond to complaints from neighbors about people hanging out on street corners and creating a disturbance or possibly selling drugs.

The proposed ordinance, being drafted by Corporation Counsel Grant Farrar, is expected to be on the City Council agenda for its Oct. 24 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Impeachment is in order if marijuana law passes

    This proposal borders on the obscene.

    It sends a message that Evanston is tolerable to marijuana use. And it also provides more ammo for local drug dealers to attract buyers to Evanston because now they can sell marijuana by the gram – up 10 sale deliveries each time without worries of an arrest and conviction. Just pay the fine and move on to the next drug deal.

    Just think, if this proposal passes it would be a boondoggle for Evanston drug dealers because you have Northwestern students as clients and now everybody who wants to buy pot would come to Evanston to avoid the risk of arrest and a conviction. 

    Does Mayor Tisdahl really think that someone who has pot under 10 grams has no intent on selling?  My guess is this proposal is aimed more for Northwestern students. A clue would be Tisdahl's example of Ann Arbor – another college town. Why wouldn't any south Chicago suburb or Gary Indiana lessen it's marijuana penalties? Tisdahl is capitulating to the Northwestern University student voters. How much you wanna bet that demographic is excited and will come out in full force to support it. Just watch.

    In my research I've discovered that in Evanston a quarter ounce or 7 grams of medium quality pot would cost you $120. One gram would cost between $10-20. (

    What does Evanston Police Chief Eddington think of this proposal? I don't hear him speaking out against it.  How many Northwestern students each year are arrested for possession of marijuana?

    What kind of message does this proposal send to our teens? Why do we have laws? One word: deterrence.

    Does Mayor Tisdahl think that this proposal would REDUCE pot use in Evanston? Waitresses wearing short kilts is unacceptable to Mayor Tisdahl who slammed any chance of Tilted Kilt opening for business but our marijuana laws are too strict, according to her.

    Here are seven reasons why Mayor Tisdahl's proposal should be shot down by aldermen, Evanston police and PARENTS!!!!!!  You can find these FACTS at

    1. Long-term studies of high school students and their patterns of drug use show that very few young people use other illegal drugs without first trying marijuana.  
    2. Short-term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning, trouble with thinking and problem solving and distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch).
    3. Long-term effects so far show that regular use of marijuana or THC may play a role in some kinds of cancer and in problems with the respiratory and immune systems.
    4. Marijuana affects many skills required for safe driving: alertness, concentration, coordination. Data have also shown that while smoking marijuana, people show the same lack of coordination on standard "drunk driver" tests as do people who have had too much to drink.
    5. Smoking marijuana causes some changes in the brain that are like those caused by cocaine, heroin, and alcohol. Scientists are still learning about the many ways that marijuana can affect
    6. Long-term marijuana use leads to addiction in some people. That is, they cannot control their urges to seek out and use marijuana, even though it negatively affects their family relationships, school performance, and recreational activities . According to one study, marijuana use by teenagers who have prior antisocial problems can quickly lead to addiction. In addition, some frequent, heavy marijuana users develop “tolerance” to its effects. This means they need larger and larger amounts of marijuana to get the same desired effects as they used to get from smaller amounts.
    7. In 2004, over 298,000 people entering drug treatment programs reported marijuana as their primary drug of abuse. However, up until a few years ago, it was hard to find treatment programs specifically for marijuana users.
    1. possession is not sale

      Hi Al:

      According to the article, this is only for marijuana possession, not for dealing.  Purchase, sale, and even possession with intent to sell (and driving under the influence of it, and growing it) would remain the same (as described in the article).  There is no reliable evidence that decriminalizing marijuana increases crime or drug use.

      It is really ok.  This would not be the end of the world.

    2. AA meeting

      Your moniker initials similarity with Alcoholics Anonymous not withstanding…

      The studies you cite reference marijuana's similar affects to alcohol…and yet alcohol is very much legal and is a much more abused drug and causes many more deaths than marijuana. Many, many people in our society are addicted to alcohol. Do you have the same disdain for alcohol as well? Why not place the same constraints on marijuana use and sales as there are on alcohol?

      There is plenty of conjecture in the studies you cite.

      What do you propose we do to level the playing field Al?

      1. Alcohol vs. Pot

        You may want to look at fat soluble vs. water soluble drug effects before you claim alcohol is the same as pot.

         If you consume one ounce of alcohol, your body will eliminate it in about one hour. If you consume one ounce of THC, there are varied elimination times – up to 30 days in some cases – before the intoxicating chemical (THC) is fully eliminated from your system. 

        Amount of alcohol allowed, by law, to drive a vehicle – 0.08%

        Amount of THC allowed – 0

        So the mayor wants to decriminalize pot – what about the users who now want to drive to work tomorrow ?? If they get stopped by the police and there is probable cause to request a sobriety test, that person has a very strong possibility of being convicted of DUI. 

        The mayor and county board president think it is a waste of time prosecuting for possession?? If DUI charges increase due to impairment from pot, where is the cost savings? Or DUI related crashes (which are felonies!!) Talk about ruining you record. Smoking a joint and getting into an accident could amount to jail time …. 

  2. Pot Penalties

    As a former employer, it was very painful to have to refuse employment to someone in his/her mid 30's a job for which they were well qualified because of a conviction on this culturally accepted minor issue. Do hope a reasonable proposal is implemented!

  3. Sounds like the NorthShore Liberal

    Of course blame society and 'nothing is really wrong' of course unless it is businesses.

  4. It is time to do such

    I strongly support both our Mayor and County President 's views on reducing penalties for small amounts of marijuana.

  5. Pot decriminalization in Evanston

    thank you Anonymous Al for your intelligent, reasoned thoughts on this subject.

    If I understand our fine City Officials correctly, we're not in favor of restaurants or bars that allow the showing of too much cleavage, midriff, leg, etc. We are however, in favor of making it legal to possess and use a certain amount of a currently illegal drug. 

    Between now and time when this goof of a "mayor" is tossed out of office, I can only hope that those of us who love Evanston can get our "elected officials" focused on the financial tsunami we are currently in. Like spending City Council time debating "backyard chickens," spending time concerning ourselves with social engineering projects should be impeachable. Our "mayor's" concern over the high costs of getting fined, the bad marks it leaves on employment records, and then somehow connecting this topic to unemployment makes me sick.

    And save me the debate over the safe uses for marijuana. I don't want to hear it. I've been a substance abuse counselor for 25 years, I've heard it all before. Get your head on straight Evanston!

    1. Less severe penalties for marijuana possession

      I can see why you posted as "Anonymous." I would not want my name associated with a post like that either. So, you like knocking down straw men, creating arguments where there are none.

      Nowhere in the proposal does it even imply that the Mayor is "in favor of making pot legal." The proposal is simply to reduce the penalties. Speeding or blowing a Stop sign is not legal.

      To be consistent, I guess you support criminalizing traffic violations and J-walking…sending these people to prison and giving them a criminal record that will last a lifetime. Why stop there? I bet public executions would slow marijuana consumption.

      It's really sad when people lose all sense of right and wrong in favor of what is beneficial to them personally.

      So you're a substance abuse counselor. Well, you do meaningless work that stigmatizes and oppresses your clients, who come to you through legal coercion and not from any real desire to access your "services."

      Get a real job and contribute something to society rather than advocating that the criminal justice system continue to send you a steady stream of clients via threats and coercion.

  6. Is that you, Frances?

    "Short-term effects of marijuana use include problems with memory and learning, trouble with thinking and problem solving and distorted perception (sights, sounds, time, touch)."

    These sound like the long term effects of watching Fox News.

    NU students aren't going to be inspired to come out and vote by this….and Tisdahl doesn't need their support anyway.

    Most of the arguments you have listed above could be made against alcohol, tobacco, or both.  

    I thought , for a moment, that I had figured out Anonymous Al's true identity:  Frances Willard!

    But then I checked Wikipedia and  realized that, in addition to being dead for over 100 years, Frances supported "include federal aid to education and free school lunches, unions for workers, the eight-hour work day, work relief for the poor, municipal sanitation and boards of health" and lots of other good things which Anonymous Al despises.

  7. I actually agree with her for once

    This is one of the first issues where I can agree with Ms Tisdahl. She is showing some support for personal liberty after her infringement upon it by banning the Tilted Kilt. This is a great idea and should save us some money on court costs and later welfare support to those made un-hirable with that on their record. If she stops wasting my money on theater subsidies and other pork, she may even earn my vote.

  8. Marijuana

    This topic bears further community thought and discussion.  Perhaps it would be possible to issue a "traffic ticket" type penalty for a first time offender; then the more stringent penalty (such as is already in place) for subsequent occurrence.  

  9. Relax Al….

    I agree with ME AGAIN.  This law isn’t for the dealers; it’s for the people caught in their cars or walking down the street smoking a joint.  This law will cut down on tax payer dollars because, no longer will these people have to go the circuit court (which is tax payer funded) for something that could easily be taken care of with a fine. 

    Also, it is very sad that businesses have to turn away qualified people over something this small.

    And remember Al, its puff, puff give….. 

    1. What are drug dealers saying about Tisdahl’s proposal?


      This proposed change is for ANYONE in possession of marijuana under 10 grams. Period.

      Dealers can sell pot by the gram or quarter (7 grams). If police stop someone and find 10 grams or less of pot how do they know it won't be sold? How would police know the user has no intentions of selling some of all of the pot even if it's not packaged? 

      What do you suppose pot dealers in Evanston and the Chicago area think of this proposed penalty change? Don't you think they will come up with ways of dealing pot in Evanston and avoiding an arrest? Never travel with more than 10 grams of pot.

      The alcohol comparison from Racer X is absurd. Two wrongs don't make a right. It is illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol unless it is in the trunk. So if someone is stopped with 10 grams of pot in a baggie and it's not in the trunk is that OK?

      Under Mayor Tisdahl's proposal, possession of marijuana under 10 grams would be like getting a speeding ticket. If this proposal is intended to cut court expenditures then may I suggest a fine on top of an arrest and conviction for marijuana possession?  See how simple that was.

      ME AGAIN – There is reliable evidence that criminalizing marijuana DECREASES CRIME AND DRUG USE!!!!!!

      Take a look at my 7-points of facts and learn how marijuana affects you and how it leads to heavier drug use. I could have posted more facts about the DIRECT correlation between marijuana and other drug use to crime but I thought that was common knowledge.

      It's funny how there are no comments about what kind of message Mayor Tisdahl's marijuana proposal sends to Evanston teenagers. In these difficult economic times do we really need to be faced with this issue?

      As a parent, I am angry and disgusted by this.


  10. Re: Pot

    This is one of the crazier posts I've read on E-Now, and that's really saying something. The Mayor's proposal is a step in the right direction for marijuana laws. It will keep the cops and the courts from wasting their time- and our money- on small possession cases. And if marijuana users want to come to Evanston, which I doubt since many other places have or will have similar laws, then they'll spend money at our restaurants when they get the munchies.

  11. ‘Family Values’??

    While I personally may agree with this decision, I question the fact that she finds it ok to smoke pot, but feels she can tell residents that a restaurant is not within her deemed 'family values' and turns them away? Is she kidding?

  12. I don’t agree with the Mayor

    I don't agree with the Mayor ever and she really made a mistake not allowing a money generating restaurant to open in the city that would have offered jobs and brought people into the city spending money.

    i have two young children and have not yet been exposed to the pot problems. But I don't think a college kid smoking a joint should be a big deal. They are at the point in their life of deciding their destination. A high school student is completely different, they are going through many changes & challenges and need all their entire brain just to make it. 

    Lower the possession to 5 grams. Double the charge for intent to sell. 

  13. The State of Evanston

    Should this measure proposed by the mayor pass, the ramifications could be greater than she understands.  You allow people to get tickets for small-time pot use.  You're sending a message to the youth that it's okay as long as it's a "small" amount.  Not a good thing. You're almost assisting people in making bad choices.  Users will still be tested for drugs when they apply for decent-paying jobs.  And they will fail.  No jobs = more houses in foreclosure.  I can't imagine that those people help your tax base and certainly are not going to go out and vote for you.

    Ticketing works SO well in Evanston.  Like for dog violations. Keeps dangerous dogs out here with zero consequence to the pocketbook or freedom. Well done Mayor Tisdahl! 

    But pass on anything that could bring money to Evanston, such as a restaurant.  We don't want any opportunity here!

    Perhaps she's so gung ho because she's one of those small amount pot users.  Her decisions seem to line up with that line of thinking.

    Taxes are become oppressive on those of us who are managing to pay our mortgages in a time when the property values are falling though the floor.  I almost feel bad for whomever buys our house.  We're leaving Evanston for a community on the rise, not watching the mayor fiddle while Evanston burns.

  14. Pot is good for our “family values” but cleavage is not…

    A law-abiding legal restaurant with sexy waitresses is no good for Evanston because it doesn't reflect our family values, yet  allowing people to have some pot is good for our family values?

    Not that I even disagree with her here, but my goodness…    This is a pretty funny proposal coming from a person who is so "concerned" about protecting our innocent youth from acts of "indecency." 


  15. Couldn’t disagree more with our Mayor.

     Just so I’m clear-According to local ordinances in the 'State of Evanston,' the following violations and fines are in effect:
    • If you use a leaf blower between May 15 and Sept. 30 you shall be fined “not less than $75”
    • If you smoke a cigarette  in a public place or bar, you shall be fined “not less than $100 and no more than $500”
    • If you have open alcohol in a public place, sidewalk, etc.  you shall be fined “not less than $500 and no more than $1,000”
    • If you possess the drug paraphernalia you need to smoke your  decriminalized cannabis, you shall be fined “not less than $100 and no more than $500, or by incarceration in a penal institute up to 6 months or both a fine and incarceration”

    With that in mind, the Mayor wants to reduce possession of marijuana to a $25 ticket?  I'm having a difficult time understanding her rationale. Lastly, everyone knows a simple cannabis arrest under a state charge,as a youth, is highly unlikely to prohibit future employment. Let's not try to fool ourselves. More accurately, the absolute lack of effort, motivation, and a seemingly nonexistent work ethic is what is preventing our youth from obtaining employment.

     P.S. I feel sorry for the "disenfranchised" youth that gets caught smoking a cigarette, while operating a leaf blower on a public street between May and September who may have a cannabis pipe in his pocket! He never see the light of day!

  16. A harmful message for kids

    Before discussing this topic the elected officials should share with the public whether they are pot smokers to indicate I'd they have a bias on the matter. Unfortunate that the Mayor says nothing about the harmful affects of pot smoking on teenagers and their cognitive development and social engagement. This unnecessary initiative sends the wrong message to kids, Evanston families and potential partners for the city.

  17. Just out of curiosity…

    what (or who) is a County President (Ref: John Barfield)? Enlighten me, please.

    1. Google Tony Precwinkle Marijuana

      Curmudgeon, your County President is Tony Preckwinkle, google Tony Preckwinkle Marijuana.

  18. Unreal

    This is a political ploy.

    Since the mayor knows she has failed miserably to turn Evanston around fiscally and economically, she pulls this circus stunt out of a hat. 

    She plays on your emotions to sell this by intermingling minority plight and joblessness due to criminal records that follow offenders for their lives.  Almost demagoguery if you really look at it, sound familiar anyone?

    Yet, a Tilted Kilt is banned by her exclusively due to outfits?  Weed ok, skimpy outfits no good.  Does not square with me. 

    If you choose to break the law, then you pay the price if you are caught.  Simple as that.  No matter how much weed you have – IT IS ILLEGAL, it is BANNED in this country and thus punishable by a criminal record, etc.   

    Also, her quote:

    "So if we're trying to reduce crime and help people get jobs, it will help to have them not getting a criminal record for a minor drug law violation."

    A very weak argument.

    How does this reduce crime?  Reducing penalties may only increase usage and sales.  Hell, smoke away if you only have the minimum required on you!  An unintended consequence of "social legislation" to help the minorities.

    How does this help job creation?  There is no correlation, because THERE ARE NO JOBS today, and especially here in Evanston.  There is no correlation between smoking weed and job creation, or laxed weed laws and job creation.  Hell, you may be too lazy to get a damn job after a few hits.

    This is our own version of Fast & Furious, we can call it Semi-Stoned & Stupid.

    To be honest, you think that with all the issues facing our city, this Mayor has the Gaul to propose this! 

    Instead of pulling rabbits out of a hat like above and calling it progress, start tackling the real problems facing Evanston – our debt, necessary budget cuts, unsustainable pensions, job creation and new business attraction. 

    This mayor is not long for this office.  One and done.  I bet she voted for Obama.

  19. What planet is she on?

    The argument that this will help youth get jobs later in life is weak. 

    We are in a college town, so what about underage drinking?  I have had plenty of friends who had to explain their arrest for underage drinking or public intoxication when they were younger to future employers.  More often than not, it hasn't affected their job search if they were upfront about it and not a repeat offender.

    It's a fact of life.  Accept the consequences for your actions.  If you don't like the consequences, abide by the law.  That's the message we should be sending our youth instead of excusing illegal behavior.

    1. No teeth in the law.

      In part, laws are established to regulate behavior that negatively impacts society. In order for this to happen there must be some measure of deterance. The fact the mayor wants to establish a $25 fine for possession of an illegal substance is laughable.

      If I park in a city parking lot without a valid permit, it's going to cost me $40. If,as a resident of this city, I fail to obtain a city sticker, it will cost me $50. Does she truly believe a $25 ticket issued on the street is going to deter our youth from smoking, selling, and/or possessing marijuana?

      If she wants an effective alternative to criminal charges, why doesn't she apply a fine in the area of $500? It's a win-win-win. The extremely high fine would act as the deterrence, it would be a fantastic revenue generator for the city, and our youth would avoid the criminal charges that she suggests is preventing them from employment.

  20. Good idea from the Mayor

    I am stunned to read all of these negative comments. “Impeachment” – are you kidding?  Amazing.  Many of these people should just move to Arizona and get it over with.  I think this is a smart move on many fronts and the City Council should support it!  Good for you Mayor Tisdahl to speak out on something that makes so much common sense.  I – and many others – support you on this.

  21. Mayor as Co-dependent

    Not a good thing to coddle pot-smoking kids.  How does it help them?  Hopefully the council won't go along with this space-headed plan.

  22. Some people love this idea

    I have a couple buddies who smoke a ton of pot.  They are looking forward to moving to Evanston.

  23. Hilarious

    I hope the mayor keeps coming up with stupid ideas…so I can read these funny comments.

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