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Offense Category

Cannabis Control Act

What is it?

Possession, manufacture or sale of marijuana.

What does our data show?

Much, though not all, of this law was made moot when marijuana was legalized in 2020, though police continued to make arrests for possession of more than the legally allowed amount or illicit distribution, according to The Chicago Reporter. The number of marijuana cases reached a peak of about 28,000 in 2007 — or more than 75 each day — before dropping by more than 80% in the years since. About half of the cannabis-related cases we found were for misdemeanor possession of 10 to 100 grams, while another third of cases were for possession of less than 10 grams. A 2016 law signed by Bruce Rauner that decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana was followed by a decrease in low-level possession cases in Cook County.


Detailed charts are unavailable for charges with fewer than 750 cases.

  • Felony
  • Misdemeanor

Race and Gender

This data shows that Black people make up the vast majority of criminal defendants charged in Cook County. Of the more than 3 million criminal cases filed in Cook County between 2000 and 2018, more than 61% were filed against Black people, even though Black people only make up 23% of the county’s population.

Research suggests the disparity has more to do with social inequity than an inherent link between race and criminality. Concentrated poverty in urban areas increases the likelihood of certain violent and property crimes, particularly in under-resourced, racially segregated communities. Black people are the most racially isolated group in Cook County and tend to live in communities where intergenerational poverty and violence, abetted by segregation, disinvestment, and institutionalized racism, have limited opportunities for many.

The disparities in charges also reflect inequities and racial bias in policing. Black people are disproportionately targeted for arrest. These numbers reflect overall trends seen in our era of mass incarceration, driven especially by law enforcement strategies such as Broken Windows policing, stop and frisk, disproportionate stops of Black drivers, and disparities in drug arrests.

Charges by Race and Ethnicity

Charges by race and ethnicity, men and women (351,665).

Black255,170 cases72.56%

Charges by race and ethnicity, men only (326,182).

Black239,317 cases73.37%

Charges by race and ethnicity, women only (23,260).

Black15,638 cases67.23%

Charges by Gender

Charges by gender, all races and ethnicities (351,665).

Male326,182 cases92.75%

Charges by gender, Black alone (255,170).

Male239,317 cases93.79%

Charges by gender, white alone (39,123).

Male34,813 cases88.98%

Charges by gender, Latinx alone (35,451).

Male33,972 cases95.83%

Charges by gender, other or unknown race or ethnicity (21,921).

Male18,080 cases82.48%

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