The Argus agrees with bills 218 and 753

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Argus Staff

 

The Illinois House and Senate have both proposed bills to decriminalize marijuana in the state of Illinois.

The House proposed Bill 218, which would eliminate the possibility of jail time for possession of marijuana. Offenders caught with up to 30 grams of marijuana would no longer face a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by up to six years in prison. Instead, offenders would be given a $100 “Uniform Cannabis Ticket” and charged with a petty offense and reclassify possession of marijuana as a Class A misdemeanor.

The Senate Bill 753 would be an even more lenient bill, which would legalize the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana and the cultivation of up to five marijuana plants legal for adults aged 21 or older.

Currently, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana is considered a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail on the first offense. Jail time increases to six months if caught with 2.5 to 10 grams, and up to a year if caught with 10 to 30 grams.

As of 2010, according to the Daily Chronic, 99 percent of all marijuana arrests made in Illinois were for simple marijuana possession, not for the cultivation or distribution of marijuana. That means that a significant amount of tax dollars that goes to the arrests of criminal drug offenders is not being used to punish the illegal production and sale of marijuana, but the recreational use of it.

Passing Bill 218 or 753 would eliminate much of the spending of tax dollars on petty arrests, and would allow for legal officials to focus more time and tax money on the arrests of more pressing criminal activity.

In addition, punishing offenders with a small fine will increase the amount of money put back into the state instead of being taken from the state for the arrests of individuals that, frankly, probably aren’t the biggest criminals out there.

The fact of the matter is that even though marijuana is illegal at the moment, the laws that are placed on the recreational use of it are extremely harsh and are directed at a group of individuals that, though participating in illegal activity, are not the largest sources of serious crime. Most of these people are just young adults without a record.

Illinois and its residents would greatly benefit from the passing of either of the two bills. Our law enforcers’ energy should be focused on catching the “bad guys,” not the virtually harmless “stoner.”