Evanston to examine drug code reforms


Ciara McCarthy/Daily Senior Staffer

Weinberg senior Marko Pavisic presents recommended changes to Evanston’s drug policy Monday evening. Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) referred the presentation to the Human Services Committee, which will take up the issue in April or May.

Ciara McCarthy, City Editor

City officials decided Monday to begin to investigate potential changes to Evanston’s controlled substance policy.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) referred a presentation on recommended drug policy reforms to the Human Services Committee, which will likely take up the issue in April or May, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said.

Weinberg senior Marko Pavisic instigated the process after he presented recommended drug policy amendments to City Council. Pavisic, a former co-president of Northwestern’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, suggested three main reforms that would ultimately lead to a lower rate of incarceration for drug-related offenses in Evanston. The suggestions include a reform that would cause cannabis-related offenses to be handled with administrative adjudication and progressively increasing fines depending on the amount of cannabis on a person when they are found.

“I looked at Evanston’s voting history and knew I wouldn’t be hitting up against a wall, that this would be a receptive audience,” Pavisic said.

Evanston made a significant change to its drug policy in 2011, when it decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Under the current policy, people caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana can receive a notice of violation instead of a physical arrest.

(Change in Evanston marijuana policy results in fewer physical arrests)

The progressive policy shift made Pavisic more willing to approach City Council with further amendments, he said. Pavisic said he first brought up additional changes to Evanston’s drug policy with Fiske during a 1st Ward meeting earlier this month.

Pavisic’s other recommended changes included a new ordinance for non-marijuana controlled substances that would eliminate arrest as a necessity for individuals caught with small amounts of illicit drugs.

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