Marijuana Decriminalization Update

The House approved penalizing small amounts of marijuana with a fine instead of arrest. Decriminalizing small amount of marijuana up to 15 grams and treating as a ticket, similar to a traffic ticket.  Fifteen grams or less of marijuana will require no court time and fine up to $125.

The Bill was sponsored by Dem. Rep. Kelly Cassidy, and stated the measure will not override laws in cities such as Chicago which already has a fine system in place for marijuana.  The measure will create a more consistent penalty through the state and eliminate the option for police arrest.

“We currently have a patchwork of local ordinances where there is the possibility of getting a ticket but not a given that you’ll get a ticket, so it’s an open question where you go whether you’re going to get arrested or get a ticket,” Cassidy said. “That creates a system whereby it depends on where you live, and what you look like, and unfortunately more often than not, it is folks who are black and brown who are being arrested, who are being pulled off the streets, pulled away from their jobs and their families and put into our jails and prisons.”

The proposal was approved both Republicans and Democrat lawmakers by 62-53.  The House Bill came after Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced they will no longer prosecute small amount of marijuana possession for people with less than three arrests or citations.

“I think police have been bogged down with petty possession crimes,” Sandack said. “I think courts have been bogged down with petty possession crimes. These people, they’re not dealers. They have no intent to sell.”

Although not all agreed to the measure such as, Republican Rep Keith Wheeler, there were more supporters like Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Illinois Bar Association and Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Court which said, the measure would help relieve overburden court system.

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