An important medical marijuana bill emerged from the Senate yesterday that could bring welcome relief to seriously ill patients around the state. Senate Bill 336 would allow patients who qualify for opioid prescriptions to enroll in the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 336, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Don Harmon and Chris Nybo, emerged with a strong 44-6 vote in support. The bill is now in the House.
Seriously ill patients should not be pushed towards some of the most harmful drugs available, particularly when there is a safer alternative. Studies in recent years have supported what many medical marijuana patients already know: medical cannabis can be an effective alternative for patients who might otherwise rely on opioid drugs.
Sen. Harmon’s bill would not only provide that alternative, it would also make other critically important improvements to the state program, including removing the current fingerprint requirement for all patients. Rep. Kelly Cassidy has already stepped in as chief co-sponsor in the House, along with over two dozen other House members who have joined with her as co-sponsors. But it’s crunch time in Springfield, and lawmakers are now working through the busiest time of the year — it’s important the bill continue to advance without delay.
If you are an Illinois resident, please ask your representatives to support this bill and to consider co-sponsoring if they haven’t signed on already.
On Tuesday, travel guru Rick Steves visited Illinois to advocate for legislation to make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. Steves joined Senate Appropriations Chairwoman Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and House Committee on Public Safety and Appropriations Chairwoman Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) for a news conference to discuss why Illinois lawmakers should support regulating and taxing marijuana. Immediately following the press conference, Steves testified in front of a joint hearing of the Illinois General Assembly.
From CBS Chicago:
“What we need to do is take that black market down and turn it into a highly regulated, highly taxed legal market so that we can gain credibility and focus on the real risk to young people in our society which is hard drug abuse,” Steves said.
Steves said prohibition does not work. He said this is not about being pro-pot. He knows it can be dangerous, but said it’s time to stop making it criminal.
His travels in Europe opened his eyes.
He also studied the effects legalization has had on Colorado and his home state of Washington. He said more people are not using it.
State Senators Kelly Cassidy and Heather Steans are the lead sponsors of the bill to regulate cannabis. They estimate legalization could generate up to $700 million for the state every year.
“It would enable individuals to buy and possess up to 28 grams or grow five plants, just for adult use,” Steans said.
In a press release today, the Chicago-based company announced that it would generously donate the proceeds of a new 30-card expansion pack based on marijuana to help promote our legislative efforts in the upcoming session.
Earlier this year, Illinois Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy introduced bills that would make marijuana legal for adults and regulate it similarly to alcohol. We expect similar bills to be introduced next year. If you are an Illinois resident and want to get involved, please contact Coalition for a Safer Illinois.
You can pick up the 'Weed Pack' here and enhance your Cards Against Humanity experience while you help us regulate marijuana for adults in the Land of Lincoln!
Rep. Kelly Cassidy and Sen. Heather Steans introduced bills Wednesday that would finally end cannabis prohibition in Illinois. Identical bills, one introduced in the House and one in the Senate, would allow adults to use, possess, and cultivate limited amounts of cannabis with no penalty, and would set up a taxed and regulated market for cannabis production and sale.
MPP issued the following statement in a press release:
“People are fed up with laws that punish adults for using a substance that is far less harmful than alcohol,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “The time is right for the Illinois General Assembly to re-examine marijuana prohibition and consider the potential benefits of a thoughtfully crafted regulatory system. The sky has not fallen in the eight states that have made marijuana legal for adults. It’s time for Illinois to move past prohibition and stop missing out on the jobs and revenue other states are already getting.”
If you are an Illinois resident, please urge your state legislators to support HB 2353 and SB 316.
Illinois Gov. Rauner just signed SB 2228, which removes criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana everywhere in Land of Lincoln. The change in the law is effective immediately.
Illinoisans or visitors found in possession of marijuana are no longer subject to arrest or jail time. The change also removes the possibility of a harmful criminal record for cannabis possession, which can last a lifetime. Instead, those found in possession would face a simple fine of between $100 and $200.
Previously in Illinois, possession of up to 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500. More than 100 Illinois communities had already removed local criminal penalties for simple marijuana possession.
This change comes from MPP’s multi-year effort to help bring fairness to the state’s possession law. Even though many cities and towns had already lowered penalties, but individuals could still be arrested and charged for possession under state law. This change moves the state away from its former patchwork system.
Illinois is now the 21st state in the nation, in addition to the District of Columbia, to remove the threat of jail time for simple marijuana possession.
We wish to thank bill sponsors Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy for their strong advocacy for a better system. Their tireless effort on behalf of fairness made this law a reality.
The Illinois House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove criminal penalties for possession of a personal amount of marijuana in a vote of 64-50. The bill — SB 2228 — will now be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner for his signature.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Heather Steans and Rep. Kelly Cassidy, represents a historic change in Illinois. Instead of arresting and jailing people in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, those found in possession would simply pay a fine of up to $200. Perhaps more importantly, people would not be stuck with harmful criminal records for the rest of their lives.
This bill is a huge improvement over the current law, which is costly, harmful, and applied unequally around the state. In fact, well over 100 local communities have already lowered criminal penalties. In many respects, SB 2228 simply makes the law more consistent.
Once the governor officially receives the bill, he will have up to 60 days to sign it into law. It reflects changes he requested last year in an amendatory veto, so we are optimistic it will become law.
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.
Illinois state Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill, which would replace criminal penalties for the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana with a civil fine, passed the Illinois Senate today on a vote of 37-19. The bill will soon be sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s desk for his signature. While he has not signaled any opposition to the measure, it is critical that he hear from Illinoisans in support of this historic bill.
If you are an Illinois resident, please contact the governor’s office today and ask him to sign HB 218 into law.
The bill does several important things. First, it removes the possibility of arrest and jail for those in possession of a small amount of marijuana. It also prevents harming a person’s criminal record, which could limit future job prospects as well as housing and educational options. And because many communities have already removed criminal penalties for possession while others have not, the bill helps ensure that all residents in Illinois will be treated similarly under the law, regardless of where they live.
Illinois Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s bill to reduce penalties for possessing a personal amount of marijuana reached a critical milestone today when it passed the House of Representatives in a 62-53 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate.
If you are an Illinois resident, please help keep up the momentum and ask your senator to vote in support of HB 218 today. Let them know it’s time to reduce the penalty for simple possession of marijuana to a reasonable fine, not life-altering criminal penalties and possible jail time.
Statements offered by nearly a dozen legislators on the floor spoke to the widespread support for the bill’s goals of bringing consistency and fairness to possession laws across Illinois — and in making sure law enforcement focuses on serious crime.