Illinois bill could reduce penalties for marijuana possession - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Illinois bill could reduce penalties for marijuana possession

(Source: United States Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons) (Source: United States Fish and Wildlife Service/Wikimedia Commons)
ANNA, IL (KFVS) - State penalties for possessing marijuana could be reduced with a bill equivalent to an underage drinking ticket.

First time offenders caught with pot won't end up here.

But instead, will be handed a ticket from police.

Representative Kelly Cassidy says the move will remove low-level offenders in our local and county jails saving the state money and resources.

Cassidy explains jailing recreational marijuana users “is not a good use of law-enforcement resources.

"They are ultimately spending more time awaiting trial than they would serve on the offense. That is not a good use of the space, the time, the programing. All of the things that could be better utilized and who really need to be in our correction center,” said Cassidy.

Chief Scott Rice wouldn't comment on the bill itself but says his department makes up tp three arrests a week for marijuana possession.

Cassidy says her bill would reduce those racial disparities in the prison system.

"There are no differences among races in terms of who uses marijuana, the difference come in to play with who is incarcerated for it,” she says.

The bill currently states that an offender would pay a $100 fine, but Representative Cassidy say that could change.

Under current state law, someone found with a maximum of 30 grams is charged with a misdemeanor and faces a fine of up to $2,500 and a maximum of 12 months in jail.

She says the proposal would change the penalty for first offense possession of small amounts of cannabis under 30 grams saving the state a lot of money.

Cassidy explains the bill would clean up local court systems and free up local law enforcement to focus more of their attention on violent offenders.

Under current state law, the penalty for a first offense is a Class A, B or C misdemeanor, depending on the amount of cannabis.

Anna Police Chief Scott Rice says his department makes two to three arrests a week for marijuana possession.

Chief Rice says it's uncommon to arrest someone with more than 30 grams of marijuana.

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