SPRINGFIELD, Illinois - The Illinois Senate passed a bill that would decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana.
Senate Bill 2228 would change current criminal penalties, including possible jail time, with a citation and fine for possession of up to ten grams of marijuana in Illinois. As long as the sentence is carried out, the civil violation records would eventually be expunged.
"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 of 2.5-10 grams is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; and possession of more than 10 grams up to 30 grams is a class 4 felony punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1,500 fine," said a statement from an advocacy group called The Marijuana Policy Project.
If the measure passes the Illinois House, it would follow action by more than 100 Illinois communities - plus 20 other states and the District of Columbia - which have already removed criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession, the statement said.
“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," said Marijuana Policy Project legislative analyst Chris Lindsey.
Votes against the measure included 36th District Republican Senator Neal Anderson, 37th District Republican Senator Chuck Weaver, and 45th District Republican Senator Tim Bivins; 47th District Democrat Senator John Sullivan voted in favor of the bill.
The measure passed the Illinois Senate by a 40-14 vote Tuesday, April 19, 2016. It now returns to the House for further consideration.