Legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana appears to be set to move forward in Illinois.
The House bill (HB 5708), which could be voted upon soon, would remove criminal penalities for the possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana. Instead, such possession would be considered a "regulatory offense" and fines would be limited to $100. Arrests and jail time would not be an option for the offense and it would be removed from a person's record once the fine is paid.
Suporters of the bill say it will free up time for police to deal with crimes of a more serious nature.
"What we are saying is let's just wipe the slate clean," Chris Lindsey, Marijuana Policy Project, told ABC 7. "Let law enforcement focus on serious crime where people get hurt and not waste resources on something most Americans now want taxed and regulated."
But opponents of the legislation, like former head of the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency Peter Bensinger, say it will lead to increased drug problems among Illinoisans.
"You are going to expose with a non-penalty much more use, much more abuse and much more addiction," he told the news outlet. "Taking away a penalty, taking away a sanction is like removing a speed limit on a highway."