Two bills introduced so far this year would reduce penalties for possession of cannabis in Illinois.
Senate Bill 753, sponsored by Senator Michael Noland of Elgin, would decriminalize the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. These same individuals would also be permitted to cultivate up to five cannabis plants. If under 21, the penalties would stay the same.
House Bill 218, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy of Chicago, provides that possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana be charged as a petty offense, rather than a misdemeanor. The individual would be assessed a $100 fine. It also classifies possession of 30 to 500 grams of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor for a first time offender, rather than a Class 4 felony as the statute currently provides.
An analyst at the Illinois Policy Institute says that Illinois has the fifth highest arrest rate for possession of marijuana. He explained that these changes would allow law enforcement to focus their efforts on crimes with more victims and crimes which present public safety risks.