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Illinois on Verge of Decriminalizing Marijuana

Chicago Marijuana

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner will soon be deciding upon legislation that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois.

The Illinois Senate voted 37-19 to make possession of 15 grams or less of marijuana a civil violation punishable by fines between $55 and a $125. Violators would not face jail time.

“There has been much talk this year about criminal justice reform and being smarter on crime,” said Sen. Michael Noland. “With this measure the Senate and House take an important step in the right direction. The benefits we will see from this plan are innumerable.”

Gov. Rauner’s spokeswoman declined to comment if the governor would sign the bill, saying he would “carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.”

The vote comes the same day the Senate also approved a measure extending Illinois’ medical marijuana program by two or more years. That also heads to the governor’s office, although Rauner is skeptical of extending the program.

Rep. Kelly Cassidy is the original sponsor and said the measure isn’t about decriminalization, but addressing racial disparities in enforcing marijuana possession. “This is not, frankly, decriminalizing. This is not legalizing. This is uniform enforcement.”

Recently, more than a dozen states have removed jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana.