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Illinois: Over 60% Support For Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession


Illinois marijuanaCHICAGO — Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63% of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27% oppose the proposal. The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available at http://www.mpp.org/ILpoll.

HB 5708, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), would eliminate criminal penalties and the possibility of a criminal record for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana. It would establish a new class of offense called a “regulatory offense,” which would prohibit arrest or jail time, limit fines to no more than $100, and require the ticket to be removed from a person’s record after the fine is paid, which would prevent individuals from losing employment and housing opportunities.

“Nobody should face potentially life-altering criminal penalties for possessing a small amount of marijuana, a substance less harmful than alcohol,” said Rep. Cassidy. “These devastating penalties are irrational and unjust. Our law enforcement officials’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes instead of marijuana possession cases.”

A new report, “Marked for Life: Collateral Sanctions in Illinois,” which details the impact of being arrested for a marijuana-related offense in Illinois, was also released at the press conference. A criminal record for marijuana possession can make it difficult to pursue one’s chosen profession, to get a job, or to even get housing. Collateral consequences of marijuana arrests in Illinois will also be the subject of a panel discussion at the Fourth Annual Forum on Drug Policy, which will be held Friday at Roosevelt University. For details, visit http://bit.ly/1jlWPe8. The full report is available at http://www.mpp.org/ILMarkedForLife.

“Illinoisans are tired of seeing their tax dollars and limited law enforcement resources wasted on arresting and prosecuting marijuana users,” said Chris Lindsey, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Lawmakers have a chance to do the right thing by listening to their constituents and supporting this sensible legislation.”

Source: Marijuana Policy Project - make a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. sickandtired on

    I’m sorry, why are any of these politicians supporting penalties for possession? Either we admit that pot is way safer than we were misinformed starting with Ainslinger in the 30’s, or we hide our heads in the sand and pretend it’s still “reefer madness” out there. Why should I pay the state of Illinois $100 fine for smoking cannabis and why should I admit any wrong doing at all? We need to stop looking at marijuana as a criminal act in any way shape or form. We are past this in terms of evidence to suggest that we allow MUCH worse substances to be possessed with absolutely no penalty – prescription drugs, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol. Is anyone sick of hearing this list yet? It’s not going away. Why should I pay a fine for useing a plant substance that kills no one and is safer than other approved substances. Its time all you people who shape policy and use your voice to expect MORE than just being a “minor criminal”. I’m tired of being oppressed. It must be a lot like being gay and in the closet. Can I just be ME NOW, THANK YOU?!?!?!?!

  2. Decriminalization is about the WORST thing you can do. It will increase demand, while keeping sales in the hands of DRUG dealers who sell more DANGEROUS drugs (thus the “gateway” effect). This will increase VIOLENCE from gang wars, fighting for their turf. It makes sure there’s no regulation of strength and purity. There’s no taxation to fund drug education and prevention. It increases access to minors. ETC ETC ETC ! Full LEGALIZATION is the ONLY way to go !!!!

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