SUMMARY OF ILLINOIS MARIJUANA CIVIL SANCTIONS BILL June 14, 2016 PROVIDES FOR CIVIL ENFORCEMENT, NOT CRIMINAL PENALITIES, FOR MARIJUANA POSSESSION The proposed legislation would eliminate the possibility of arrest and jail time for simple possession of marijuana in Illinois. Under the proposed law, an individual possessing not more than 10 grams (approximately one-third ounce) of marijuana would be charged with a civil, not a criminal, law violation punishable by a fine, like a traffic ticket, of no more than $200. Background: In 2010, there were over 49,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Illinois. Offenders face criminal prosecution even for low levels. Over 100 Illinois cities and towns, including Chicago, have already enacted local ordinances calling for civil sanctions comparable to a traffic ticket. This patchwork of ordinances and laws has led to uneven enforcement across the state. Despite these local actions, under current state law, police can continue to issue arrests leading to a criminal record.
State legislators in Rhode Island are considering whether their state should become the fifth in the nation to legalize marijuana. On May 10, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, Thomas J. Tobin, issued a public commentary in opposition. Rev. Alexander E. Sharp, Executive Director of Clergy for a New Drug Policy, offers this letter in response.
By Alexander E. Sharp In a world of bleak and distressing headlines, it was a pleasant New Year surprise to see the words “Teen Rebellion, Guess Who’s Shunning Cigarettes” introducing a recent editorial in the Chicago Tribune. Teen cigarette smoking has fallen by 50% in just the last five years, and has been declining for the past decade. These figures, released on December 16th by the nationwide Monitoring the Future study out of the University of Michigan, give us more than simply good news about reduced teen smoking. They should also inform our growing national debate about whether we should continue to prohibit marijuana or legalize it.