Pot decriminalization bill would lower penalties for possession of 10 grams or less

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By Mark Fitton
Illinois News Network

SPRINGFIELD — State Rep. Kelly Cassidy has reintroduced legislation to put small-amount marijuana possession on par with a traffic ticket.

Cassidy, D-Chicago, says House Bill 4357 would make possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil violation punishable by a fine. Adults would no longer face time in jail and the civil offense automatically would be expunged in order to prevent a permanent criminal record.

“This is a reasonable proposal that is long overdue,” Cassidy said in a Chicago news conference Thursday. “It needs to happen, and I am hopeful that we can make it happen quickly since it’s already such familiar territory for legislators and the governor.”

Cassidy sponsored a similar bill in the spring and it passed both chambers. However, Gov. Bruce Rauner used his amendatory veto powers to suggest changes and the House did not concur.

Cassidy said this version of the legislation addresses the governor’s concerns and reflects the language of his amendatory veto.

Rauner, R-Winnetka, earlier this year said Cassidy’s bill had merit, but he asked for the following changes, all of which Cassidy appears to have made in HB 4357:

Under current Illinois law, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. Possession from 2.5 grams to 10 grams is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia have removed the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession, Cassidy said.

About the Author
Paul Gordon is the editor of The Peorian after spending 29 years of indentured servitude at the Peoria Journal Star. He’s an award-winning writer, raconteur and song-and-dance man. He also went to a high school whose team name is the Alices (that’s Vincennes Lincoln High School in Indiana; you can look it up).