Marijuana punishment reduced in Galesburg

Getting caught with marijuana could come with a different punishment now in Galesburg.

After months of feedback from police and other community organizations, the city council voted Monday to approve an ordinance that would reduce the penalty on people caught with 2.5 grams or less of marijuana.

"When we're talking about younger individuals, 17, 18, 19 we don't want this type of charge to prevent them from being a productive individual in the community," said Jeremy Karlin, Ward 7 Alderman.

Instead of arresting someone for possession, it could become a fine of $300, with that money going to the city rather than the state.

Another reason for the ordinance change is to ease the strain put on the police department, in terms of evidence processing and court costs.

Wayne Dennis, Ward 2 Alderman, voted against it.

"Jeopardizing my grandkids or other children for a few bucks out of the city's pocket isn't my idea of something we should be doing," said Dennis.

According to Dennis, there were 76 arrests made in 2011 for possession of 2.5 grams of marijuana or less.

Based on that number, with the new ordinance, revenue for the city translates to $22,000 dollars a year.

"Is it worth it to sell kids out for $22,000,” he said. “To me, it's not."

Karlin, who spearheaded the ordinance change, disagrees, saying this is the obvious next step.

"This is Galesburg following the trend of over 70 other communities in the state of Illinois that have passed similar ordinances."

The mayor has to sign off on the change before it becomes official.

Calls to his office Tuesday weren't returned.

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