By Steve Elliott
The Illinois House on Thursday approved a decriminalization measure under which possession of small amounts of marijuana would result in a fine instead of arrest.
Minor cannabis possession would go from a crime with up to a year in jail and fines of up to $2,500 to become more like a traffic ticket, with no court time and a fine maxing out at $125, reports Jessie Hellmann at the Chicago Tribune.
House Bill 218 would apply to people caught with 15 grams or less of marijuana, just over half an ounce.
The legislation would create a uniform penalty throughout the state, and eliminate the option for police to arrest people carrying small amounts of cannabis, according to sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago).
"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," Rep. 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," she said.