Illinois Senate Approves Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

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Seventeen states have decriminalized marijuana. More and more cities are decriminalizing marijuana as well. One of those cities is Philadelphia, which has already saved over one million dollars by doing so. Currently simple marijuana possession in Illinois carries a penalty of $2,500 and up to a year in jail. Illinois' Senate recently passed a bill that would lower that penalty down to no jail time and a fine of up to $125. Per the Chicago Tribune:

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Republican Sen. Jason Barickman of Champaign voted for the measure, saying it would help ease the state's financial woes by reducing court costs.

"Every person you talk to in this state wants us to find ways to save money," Barickman said. "This legislation gives us a way to do that. It will save some money at the state level, and give us the opportunity to save money at the local level."

During consideration in the House last month, Cassidy said the measure wouldn't override laws in cities like Chicago that already have fines in place for marijuana possession but is aimed at creating a uniform penalty throughout the state and eliminating the option for police to arrest people carrying small amounts of pot.

The bill's sponsors want to hold off on sending it to the Governor to sign until some language tweaks can be approved. If that happens, and the Governor signs the bill, it would take effect at the beginning of the next year. Marijuana decriminalization is obviously not as good as full legalization, but it's far better than full prohibition that comes with a fine that costs far more than my car does, and jail time, and the 'marijuana scarlet letter.'

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