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Grateful Dead Weekend in Chicago: How Many People Were Arrested for Marijuana Infractions?

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Shirley Halperin

Chicago's Soldier Field

Fare thee weed: Chicago police were kind to smoking Deadheads in and around Soldier Field.

As further proof that the world is changing at a rapid pace, just three people were charged with marijuana possession during the Grateful Dead’s Fare Thee Well final concerts at Soldier Field in Chicago this past weekend.

Despite literally hundreds of thousand of Deadheads converging on the Windy City (the official ticket sale count for the July 3 through 5 shows was 212,000), the Chicago Police Department opted for a hands-off approach to the rampant marijuana smoking that took place in and around Soldier Field over three days.

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A spate of gun violence in the city over the weekend -- seven people were killed and 40 others shot -- forced the CPD to redirect their energies, though it appears they never intended to crack down on weed, which is decriminalized in Chicago.

“CPD’s primary focus was on fighting violent crime and addressing the illegal guns that threaten our communities,” said the police department's communications director Anthony Guglielmi in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times.

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One person was arrested for possessing more than 15 grams of marijuana and two other received summonses for having less than that. In 2012, Chicago reduced possession of 15 grams or less from a misdemeanor to a non-criminal summons.

Illinois is on the verge of decriminalizing marijuana. A bill has passed both the Senate and House and is on Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk, awaiting his signature. It should also be noted that the Governor himself was in attendance for Fare Thee Well's Friday show.

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