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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Calls for Marijuana Decriminalization

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marijuana possession, Illinois criminal defense attorney, drug dealing, delivery of pot, possession of pot,Last year, Illinois became the 20th U.S. state to legalize medical marijuana use. Now, if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his way, the state will join California and Colorado in decriminalizing the use of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes. During an appearance before the Illinois General Assembly, Emanuel testified for over an hour about the need and benefits of lifting Illinois' non-medicinal marijuana use ban. Currently in Illinois the laws regarding marijuana possession are as follows:

  • It is a Class C misdemeanor to possess 2.5 grams or less of a substance containing marijuana;

  • It is a Class B misdemeanor to carry any substance with more than 2.5 grams but no more than 10 grams of a substance that contains marijuana;

  • It is a Class A misdemeanor to possess more than 10 grams but not more than 30 grams of substance containing marijuana; and

  • It is a felony to possess more than 30 grams of marijuana.

During his appearance, Emanuel outlined the financial and social impacts that lifting the ban would have on the state, making it clear that he had done his homework. The mayor specifically called for the state of Illinois “to put our sentencing policies in line with our values, reduce penalties for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses so we don't put people in prison who need drug treatment.” While it remains to be seen whether a bill will be passed that decriminalizes non-medical marijuana use, support by one of Illinois' most prolific public officials means that the issue has received the attention of those most capable of bringing about changes to the current laws.

Support for Marijuana Decriminalization

Mayor Emanuel's argument in favor of marijuana decriminalization focused on the social and financial effects that could result from a lifting of the ban. The mayor argued that “It's time, in my view, to free up our criminal justice system to address our real public safety challenges and build on the progress that has been made.” Medical marijuana convictions can cost people jobs and present struggles for an individual simply because he or she was caught in possession of a relatively small amount of the drug. Furthermore, the time and energy spent by law enforcement professionals to enforce the law costs Illinois tons of money that could be better spent on apprehending and prosecuting more serious and violent criminal offenders.

Other supporters of the lifting of the medical marijuana ban have focused on the revenue that could be generated for both the private and public sector from the decriminalization and legal sale of marijuana in Illinois. However, getting such a system up and running could take many years, even if the Illinois legislature votes to lift the ban.

If you are facing drug charges in Illinois currently, you should contact the experienced Will County criminal law attorneys at the Law Offices of Cosmo Tedone and Barbara Morton, P.C. in Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois. We are prepared to help you in whatever way we can.
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