The Illinois Senate has approved a bill removing criminal penalties for the possession of a personal cannabis stash, reports the Marijuana Policy Project.
Senate Bill 2228 was passed with a 40-14 vote on Tuesday, and now goes to the House for consideration.
The law would make possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis punishable by a civil fine of $100-$200. Jail sentences would no longer be applicable for such an infraction. Also, the civil offense would be automatically expunged from the violator’s record, meaning that small-time cannabis possession will no longer risk staining someone’s permanent record.
“We need to replace Illinois’s current patchwork of marijuana possession laws with a consistent standard that will be applied fairly across the state,” said Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago), who introduced the bill. “People should not be sent to jail for an offense that would have been punishable by a small fine if it had occurred a few miles down the road. It’s irrational, it’s unpredictable, and it’s unjust.”
More than 100 communities across Illinois have already reformed the criminal penalties for marijuana possession.
Current state law carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail for the possession of 2.5 grams of cannabis or less. Between 10 and 30 grams could land a person in jail for a year, in addition to the fines. And no matter the amount carried, the state can currently issue up to $1,500 in fines for possession.
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