Illinois could soon become the 17th state where the possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized. On Thursday, in fact, the Illinois Senate voted 37-19 to approve the legislation that would would bar arrest for the offense.
“Low-level cannabis possession would go from a crime with fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in a jail to penalties likened to a traffic ticket: no court time and a fine of up to $125 for those caught with 15 grams or less, which is the equivalent of about 25 cigarette-size joints,” explains the Chicago Tribune, pointing out that the bill “it’s not going to Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk just yet — sponsors say they’ll hold onto it until additional cleanup language is approved.”
Does this mean Illinois will soon legalize marijuana? Not according to the sponsors of the measure. “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,” stated Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, adding “I do think that’s the direction we’re going. When we get there is anyone’s guess.”
“It’s wrong, and 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,” said Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, who also supported the measure.
In other words, according to this group of politicians, marijuana is bad, but actually not that bad. Personally, I think this is certainly a step forward… but I am not quite sure about its nature: is this a “positive” or a “negative” step forward? Is this reinforcing the idea that smoking pot is a crime, or is it really pushing people to rethink how they feel about a plant that carries an enormous amount of health benefits with it?
Food for thoughts.