Illinois Senate passes marijuana decriminalization bill but plans changes
The Illinois legislature joined the movement to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot, passing a measure Thursday that would bar arrest for the offense.
Carrying small amounts of marijuana would result in a fine instead of an arrest under a measure approved Thursday by the Illinois Senate.
Low-level cannabis possession would go from a crime with fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in a jail to penalties likened to a traffic ticket: no court time and a fine of up to $125 for those caught with 15 grams or less, which is the equivalent of about 25 cigarette-size joints.
The Senate voted 37-19 to approve the legislation after it cleared the House last month. But it's not going to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk just yet — sponsors say they'll hold onto it until additional cleanup language is approved.
If signed into law, Illinois would join 17 other states in decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana, according to NORML, which advocates the legal use of marijuana. Nearly half the country, including Illinois, already allows for the use of medical marijuana.
Sponsoring Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, said that while he believes using marijuana is wrong, people shouldn't have their lives ruined because of it.
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