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Illinois Decriminalization Law Moves to Senate for Floor Vote

Illinois lawmakers are pushing once more for a bill to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis.

The proposed law would make the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana a civil infraction, penalized with a ticket ranging from $100 to $200. The law, Senate Bill 2228, passed on Wednesday through the Senate Criminal Law Committee and now moves to the Senate for a floor vote.

A similar bill that moved through the General Assembly last year was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, who wanted tighter restrictions for the decriminalization law. This year’s attempt is a partisan effort that addresses the governor’s concerns. The threshold in last year’s bill was a 15 gram possession limit with a maximum fine of $125.

Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), sponsor of SB 2228, said the bill aims for “more consistent and fair enforcement and prosecution of cannabis possession across the state.”

The measure would also expunge cannabis citations from peoples’ records every six months.

“It’s very much a resource-based rationale for why we (prosecutors) support this legislation,” said Brandon Nemec, a Cook County-based assistant state attorney. “All too often, particularly in Cook County, we have a situation where an individual is arrested for a small amount of cannabis, they are sought to appear before a court, and the case is dismissed.”

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