Illinois’ Full Senate Approves Bill to Decriminalize Cannabis

jillyIllinois’ full Senate gave approval today to a bill that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for the possession of small amounts of cannabis. The vote was 40 to 14.

Senate Bill 2228, which was introduced by Senator Heather Steans (D-Chicago), would make the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis a civil violation punishable by a fine of no more than $200. Under current Illinois law, the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis is punishable by a misdemeanor and up to 6 months in jail (if it’s under 2.5 grams the penalty is up to 30 days in jail)

“We need to replace Illinois’s current patchwork of marijuana possession laws with a consistent standard that will be applied fairly across the state,” says Senator Steans. “People should not be sent to jail for an offense that would have been punishable by a small fine if it had occurred a few miles down the road. It’s irrational, it’s unpredictable, and it’s unjust.”

“Illinois spends way too much money imposing costly criminal penalties on people who are found in possession of a personal amount of marijuana,” said Chris Lindsey, a senior legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Serious penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not used to punish marijuana consumers. Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record simply for possessing a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.”

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