Legal Marijuana Finding New Home In Illinois
The pro-pot campaign seems to be gaining more and more traction as time moves on. Just 2 weeks ago we noted that Pennsylvania Senate pushed through Senate Bill 3 for medical cannabis with a 40-7 margin, and debates on the religious values of reefer rage on in Texas. Now it has been announced that Illinois has become the latest state to jump on the trend by passing a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Moving Marijuana Measures
This was another overpowering majority approval in a vote by the Illinois Senate. They passed the measure on Thursday by a 37-19 margin. The new measure that has been proposed is not an all-out legalization bill like some still expect. This new piece of legislation advocates for a number of positive changes for anyone with less than 15 grams of marijuana, including:
- No court time
- A maximum fine of $125
Current possession penalties for marijuana in the state of Illinois call for fines of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail, and this new policy would provide significantly reduced criteria for those caught with smaller amounts of marijuana.
One of the best known areas- Chicago adopted a relatively similar citywide measure in 2012 which permitted police to avoid arrests and instead issue fines of $250-500 for less than 15 grams marijuana. So in a sense the state has been coming up with the template for some time, the only question now is will the mayor follow through?
Currently the state of Illinois has a zero tolerance law for driving with marijuana, but that policy will also be adapted to fit with the new more relax restrictions. The official “driving while high” limit (like the BAC limit for drivers) would be considered 15 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, or 25 ng/ml of saliva.
Police will still be allowed to use field sobriety tests to determine impairment in drivers.
Officials With Opinions
One of the bill’s sponsors Democratic Senator Michael Noland was very clear that while he did not endorse the use of marijuana to minors, what he did believe is that people will use the drug, and that it should not be a scarlet letter to haunt them for the rest of their lives should they be caught doing so.
“I would encourage the children of this state and my own children to abstain from the use of the substance, but people do use this, and it should not be something that ruins social lives and professional lives as well. People have been arrested at very young ages for this and have suffered the consequences.”
Democratic Representative Kelly Cassidy also applauded the measure, and said it would keep low-level offenders out of the state’s congested prison system. That being said, she isn’t convinced that the bill was part of a speedy process towards marijuana legalization in the state. Cassidy stated:
“I think a poll would find more … support for legalization among the public than politicians, but that’s simply not politically feasible in the General Assembly now. I do think that’s the direction we’re going. When we get there is anyone’s guess.”
Now things aren’t just yet set in stone. Much like the legislation being pursued in Pennsylvania, there is still some final approval that needs to go into passing the bill into law, and in Illinois case Republican Governor Bruce Rauner still needs to put his John Hancock on the page.
Rauner has remained silent on whether he intends to sign the measure, with spokeswoman Catherine Kelly only stating that he:
“will carefully consider any legislation that crosses his desk.”
Those opposed to the bill have noted flaws in its language, especially since is lacks any treatment requirements for offenders. Currently the sponsors are cleaning up some of the language in the bill before sending it to his desk.
No, not that is has F-bombs or anything, but just to make the wording more clear and definitive to avoid being manipulated.
So while these officials work hard to find the right words, people all over the state wonder if this is the right action being taken at the right time. Still other states wonder if the same kind of changes will take place in their own cities, and all the while eyes on politicians gearing up for the coming elections watch to see who flinches first at the marijuana reforms. But are these legislations making things better or worse?
For the addict, it may seem hard to understand how in times of reform marijuana is still not safe for them to use. Drug addicts in active recovery often learn that a drug is a drug, and that substituting one for another can be just as dangerous. But regardless of the drug, there is always hope for a future without it. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588