$78 Million | That is roughly how much Cook County in Illinois, which includes Chicago, spends each year to prosecute those arrested for marijuana possession. The Chicago Reader crunches the number to reach the estimate by totaling how much time and money police and courts spend on these cases. At the same time, city and county officials face budget deficits and are laying off public employees. In 2009, Cook County decriminalized small amounts of marijuana in areas managed by the county. County commissioner John Fritchey (D) told the Reader it is at least time to consider legalizing marijuana because of the cost. “People have to unshackle themselves from the stigma surrounding marijuana and recognize it’s time to change existing laws,” Fritchey said.