Decriminalization of marijuana offers positive outcome

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Last year, Governor Rauner was presented with the notion of decriminalizing marijuana for the state of Illinois. He opposed since the original presented amount of fifteen grams, which is the decriminalized amount in Chicago, was too high of an amount with too low of a fine.

Currently, it has been a week since possessing a small amount of the controversial plant has been decriminalized in the state of Illinois. On July 29, Governor Bruce Rauner passed the senate bill 2228 which makes possession of a minor amount of marijuana a civil offense.

Now, possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana no longer means jail time, rather a fine of $100 to $200 will be issued instead.

Previous to July 29, possessing up to 2.5 grams meant facing up to a month of jail time and a hefty fee of $1,500 Those who possessed any amount between 2.5 to 10 grams bumped up the jail sentence to six months with still the $1,500 fee issued. Offenders who posses the same amount of 10 grams will now be charged a fine of nearly the amount of an illegal parking ticket.

While in the city of Chicago possession of 15 grams or more of marijuana means time behind bars, it is respectable to see the rest of the state catch up to a reasonable punishment. Rauner has added Illinois to be the 21st state in the nation to erase jail from being an outcome.

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), a lobbyist organization based in Washington, D.C., who also lobbied for Rauner to pass the bill, released a press release which highlighted the positive outcomes of the recent passage.

“We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy,” Chris Lindsey, a senior legislative counsel for the MPP said. “This commonsense legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest.”

Among those lives whose lives have been turned upside down from being arrested for minor possession of marijuana are college students using the plant for recreational purposes. Although this new bill, offers leeway on the possessed amount and removes the threat of jail time over their heads for holding small amounts, college students everywhere in the state should not view this as a hall pass.

“Nobody should face a lifelong criminal record and potential jail time for possessing a substance that is safer than alcohol. Serious criminal penalties should be reserved for people who commit serious crimes, not low-level marijuana offenses.”

No college student should face jail time, but no college student should perceive this new law as an incentive to use more of it or become carefree about its possession. Being a responsible young adult is still more valuable than paying any fines for holding its possession.