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Flanked by leaders in the faith community, Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy today announced a new decriminalization bill last week for the 2016 session, HB 4357. Rep. Cassidy has long worked to establish a more just approach to marijuana possession in Illinois, and this new bill gives lawmakers and the governor a chance to quickly pass a bill they both agree would improve the lives of thousands of Illinoisans.
While both Gov. Bruce Rauner and the legislature agreed that arrest and jail should be replaced with civil penalties, Gov. Rauner wanted some changes to the legislation approved by the General Assembly. After he issued an amendatory veto, attention turned to the state budget during the latter half of the year. HB 4357 picks up where the previous bill left off.
Currently, possession laws in Illinois are harsh and unfair. Not only can a person be arrested, jailed, and fined large amounts of money for simple possession, people of color are also far, far more likely to be arrested than their white counterparts. It’s past time for state law to change and apply equally to all residents.