General Assembly To Vote On Decriminalizing Cannabis Possession

By Benjamin Cox on March 26, 2021 at 12:45am

The Illinois General Assembly is proposing to fully decriminalize marijuana possession in the state. House Bill 3085 aims to fully legalize the delivery and possession of any amount of marijuana — a move that would also allow for the automatic expungement of more serious pot offenses and set free those who are currently incarcerated for those crimes.

19-term Democrat and chief deputy majority leader Representative Mary E. Flowers of Chicago’s 31st District is the lone sponsor of the bill. Flowers claimed on the floor that she introduced the bill to further address the toll of the drug war and its disproportionate impact on people of color.

Flowers’ bill is now being sent to the House floor after being narrowly approved by the body’s Criminal Justice Committee earlier this week. Executive Director of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association Jim Kaitschuk told the Chicago Sun-Times that the bill favors habitual criminals and drug traffickers. Kaitschuk also said the proposal would allow certain pot offenders to carry guns and could complicate the state’s current expungement process. Under current law, individuals arrested for possessing or selling up to 30 grams of cannabis and/or have possession in a vehicle can be illegal if a person does not have it in an approved container.

According to a spokesperson from Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office, the state has expunged over 492,000 non-felony cannabis offenses at the state level, along with 20,000 pardons issued by the governor to cannabis offenders after the passage of the state’s recreational marijuana bill last year.

HB3085 has been moved to a second reading and will be debated in the Illinois House again in April during a scheduled in-person session.