After an uphill battle through the Senate and House, Illinois is on it'sway to decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. A similar bill failed last year after Governor Rauner decided regulations must be more strict. Last year's bill decriminalized the possession of 15 grams of marijuana and reduced penalties for possession from 6 months in jail and a up to $1,500 fine, down to no jail time and a max $125 ticket. To appease the governor, this year's bill only decriminalizes up to 10 grams of cannabis and offenders would owe a fine between $100-200. By removing jail-time for all low level offenders, the court system is no longer clogged up with non-violent users, police are no longer spending up to 4 hours per low level bust, and the tax-payers are no longer paying $38,000 a year to house and feed each prisoner.
Illinois’ criminal-justice system must ensure public safety – it must also be fair and effective. Refocusing priorities by reforming the way the system punishes people for low-level possession offenses will lower costs and allow police to focus on serious crimes, while also ensuring that the state doesn’t ensnare people caught with small amounts of marijuana in a costly and ineffective system.