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Question of the day

Thursday, Apr 3, 2014

* From a press release…

Supporters of a bill that would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana in Illinois released the results of a statewide poll showing strong support for such legislation. The Illinois House Restorative Justice Committee approved the bill last week, and supporters are now calling on members of the House to approve the proposal.

The Public Policy Polling survey shows 63% of Illinois voters support making possession of an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. Only 27% oppose the proposal. The poll found majority support across all reported genders, races, and political party affiliations. The survey, which polled 769 Illinois voters from March 28-30, is available at

HB 5708, introduced by Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago), would eliminate criminal penalties and the possibility of a criminal record for possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana. It would establish a new class of offense called a “regulatory offense,” which would prohibit arrest or jail time, limit fines to no more than $100, and require the ticket to be removed from a person’s record after the fine is paid, which would prevent individuals from losing employment and housing opportunities.

* According to the poll, even 56 percent of Republicans support this concept. Here’s the actual poll question

Under current Illinois law, it is a criminal offense for a person to possess marijuana, and he or she can be sentenced to up to a year in jail for possessing an ounce of marijuana. Would you support or oppose a change in the law to make it a non-criminal offense to possess an ounce or less of marijuana for personal use, punishable by a fine of up to $100, but without jail time?

* Let’s ask the same question. Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please.

online survey

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    I voted NO because the ounce is a ridiculously large amount of pot. I am told the stuff going around today is NOT the ditch weed we all… er…some of my friends, that is…smoked in college, and that a puff or two is all that’s needed.

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    Yes, of course. Marijuana is the mildest of drugs, harmless.

    You can go to Walgreens and pick up a bottle of Jack and a pack of Luckys while you wait for your Oxy script to get filled.

    That’s socially acceptable. The idea that ganj is a threat is absurd.

  3. - Jeff Trigg - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:25 pm:

    A recent study says Illinois is spending $220 million per year in their failed efforts to enforce cannabis prohibition laws. This will help the state budget and result in fewer minorities being locked up for petty cannabis offenses.

  4. - Toure's Latte - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    To clarify, make the amount smaller, say 10 grams, and my vote is YES. An pot owner can keep the rest at home under lock and key.

  5. - Makes sense - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    Seems like common sense to support.

  6. - Chigal - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:28 pm:

    What JT said. Even narcs support decriminalization.

  7. - MrJM - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:30 pm:

    [impotently shakes his fist at his html]

  8. - danlinn - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:36 pm:

    Support it but decrim doesnt go far enough. Legalization will result in regulation and hurt the profits of gangs and cartels, decrim keeps them in control of the illegal market.

  9. - A guy... - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:38 pm:

    Doing this will increase efficiency in law enforcement and the court system. It may prevent a few weedsters from becoming career criminals. Get it over with. If you want a war on drugs, pick the right enemy. It ain’t small quantities of pot.

  10. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    An ounce may be a bit high, but I would also support the ability to grow a plant or two for non-commercial use.

    Personal growing would put a great dent in illegal sales.

  11. - ISUAlumn - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:39 pm:

    This and taco bell now offering breakfast. Coincidence? I think not!

  12. - lake county democrat - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:41 pm:

    All the obvious reasons: we should err on the side of freedom, medical benefits for many (beyond the prescription uses), waste of money of trying to enforce drug laws, awful effects of racial disparity in same, etc.

  13. - PERPLEXED - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:43 pm:

    The problem is not the ounce…it is where ALL of those ounces come from… wait! Maybe we could create a NEW tax on that also!

  14. - cicero - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:46 pm:

    Possession of small amounts of M is the most common reason for arrest in Chicago. It’s time to force the CPD to stop busting black kids for what North shore kids do with impunity.

  15. - PoolGuy - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    I really hope this happens. sending kids, or adults, to jail for weed is ridiculous. too expensive, focus on the violent offenders, or Wall Street people who steal millions from investors and never do one day in prison.

  16. - jake - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:48 pm:

    Agree completely. The War on Marijuana does so much more harm than marijuana itself that it is not even close. I have never smoked marijuana because I feel that civil disobedience should be reserved for more serious matters than recreational drug use, but if this passes I might take my first puff–at age 75.

  17. - Demoralized - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:49 pm:

    I would support it. We need to stop throwing people in jail for stuff like this.

  18. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    It certainly would seem to result in making better use of our court system and incarceration facilities.

    Of course, as someone who takes the issue of personal freedom and liberty from government oppression very seriously, this makes sense as long as it doesn’t harm others.

    There perhaps should be an additional consequence, however, of losing vehicle or even perhaps professional state licenses if someone is chronically ticketed for this offense.

  19. - PolPal56 - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:57 pm:

    Yes, but only because legalization and regulation & taxation thereof isn’t an option.

  20. - crazybleedingheart - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    “To clarify, make the amount smaller, say 10 grams, and my vote is YES. An pot owner can keep the rest at home under lock and key.”

    Oh, sure, it can be kept in a magic humidor that keeps replenishing itself without the home user ever having to purchase the substance in any significant quantity and then travel with it.

  21. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:01 pm:

    PlPal56- you’re exactly right. Legalize it and tax it, and get it over with.

  22. - Roamin' Numeral - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:02 pm:

    Treat it like alcohol. Legalize it for those 21 and over. The state collects pot tax revenue. Anyone selling pot to a minor has the right to remain silent.

  23. - A modest proposal - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:03 pm:

    I voted Yes, but after reading some of the comments I agree that an “O” is too much. If someone has an ounce that means they are probably dealing. I would say an “eighth” is a good cutoff.

  24. - OldSmoky2 - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:04 pm:

    I voted yes, but I agree with others that we should legalize it and tax it, which would have the added benefits of taking profits away from drug cartels and creating some jobs for local growers in Illinois.

  25. - Charlatan Heston - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    Legalize it and tax it

  26. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:08 pm:

    I voted to support because it’s better than current law but would more favor legalization of small amounts. I would also support being allowed to grow your own.

  27. - Downstate Weed Chewing Hick - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:13 pm:

    Would this reclassification as a “regulatory offense” exempt the ticket from falling under the Drug Asset Forfeiture Procedure Act, 725 ILCS 150/2? $100 fine and loss of your house or car is still a pretty stiff penalty.

  28. - PoolGuy - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    after reading some posts, yes why not instead of fining people, make it legal and tax it for everyone. the fine would be basically a tax for the people who get caught.

  29. - Downstater - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:24 pm:

    Voted yes. Would put on par with alcohol.
    Should reduce the number of people in prisons and jail making the costs to operate them and the court systems less. Of course, we probably will not see that reduction, but it would be big at all levels.

  30. - LBJ - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    Its 2014. Most people who want to have it can get it and society has not come to a screeching halt. Colorado collected $2 million in tax revenues in January alone. Given the size of our population relative to Colorado’s, we might able to bring in $30 million annually.

  31. - Ali Nagib - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:49 pm:

    ===If someone has an ounce that means they are probably dealing===

    So does that mean that someone with a case of wine in their trunk is a liquor retailer? Or that someone with a carton or two of cigarettes is a tobacconist?

    End cannabis prohibition today. Tax and regulate.

  32. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:55 pm:

    Someone who has an ounce on them is not necessarily a dealer. There are pot smokers who are otherwise law abiding tax paying citizens who prefer to not have regular contact with their dealer.

  33. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:09 pm:


    I support a law totally decriminalizing an ounce or less.

    After all, it’s the 21st century.

  34. - Alexander Cut the Knot - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:16 pm:

    Oppose. Why would you make it safer for purchasers to purchase something that it is still illegal to sell? Be honest - decriminalize and regulate the sale if you think it has no adverse societal effects, rather than be dishonest and wink at users while you de-emphasize over time the prosecution of sellers.

  35. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:17 pm:

    If it were legalized, regulated, and taxed, we wouldn’t have to worry about whether the amount were one ounce, more or less. What’s more, many gang-bangers would then have to find honest employment….or move to Milwaukee, Indianapolis, or elsewhere.

  36. - fed up - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:49 pm:

    Lets skip the medical marijuana farce, skip the decriminalization half step, and legalize, tax, and regulate Marijuana. Let Illinois farmers, farm it along with industrial hemp and help the economy of Central and Southern Illinois. It’s going to happen let’s get ahead of the curve and give Illinois buisnesses a competitive advantage.

  37. - Past the Rule of 85 - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:52 pm:

    I would go even further and say we should declare Victory in the War on Drugs, legalize and regulate most drugs and tax the proceeds. The cost of the drugs would lower which would reduce crime rates, which will reduce the cost of public saftey. Drugs should be treated as a public health issue not a criminal issues.

  38. - fed up - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:57 pm:

    How are you going to to write someone a ticket Rep. kelly, that would require them to have an ID. We all know requireing an ID for something is racist.

  39. - dupage dan - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 2:58 pm:

    I’m going to assume this law would allow that minors would not get the pass this law allows. I voted yes.

  40. - College in the 70s - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    I support decriminalization of marijuana and also support legalization and taxation. The statistics are crazy on the number of people in jail, particularly in Cook County. I’m white and 60. I wouldn’t probably spend a night in jail for a joint. If I were black and 22 I wouldn’t like my chances. Let’s get real and get fair!!!! Let’s tax it and build smaller prisons.

  41. - fed up - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:13 pm:

    college in the 70’s

    A joint gets you an I bond when your prints come back about 2-6 Hours now, (Quicker if youve been arressted before), no matter white, black, hispanic,asian. Chicago & Cook Co want nothing to do with feeding or caring for you for any longer than neccasary.

    No one goes to Jail or Prison for small amounts of Weed. Go to a criminal court house in Cook Co any morning and listen to the hearings, it has pretty much been decriminalized already.

  42. - zatoichi - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    Keep taking the small steps, then just cut the maybe, kinda, shoulda and legalize it. Clear the prisons of pot related crimes. Tax away or sell personal use license. The war was over long ago.

  43. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    Support. Certainly seems fair. It sort of amounts to a tax on the unlucky who happen to get caught. Also good - more revenue, and less prison maintenance expense.

    But might this be a slippery slope to legalization? Good.

  44. - Social - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:33 pm:

    I would support efforts to legalize and/or not punish people who possess and sell marijuana.
    An oz is not a lot of marijuana. Besides, I hardly ever hear anyone complaining about the size of alcoholic beverages, aside from that they’re “too small”.

  45. - Frustrated Voter - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    I oppose it, but only because I don’t it should be an offense at all and there should be no fine.

  46. - D.P.Gumby - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 3:45 pm:

    I support, though i support total decriminalization and legalization. The war on drugs has been more destructive than have the drugs themselves, to American society.

  47. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    I voted yes …Cannabis should be 100% leagal for adults over 21 …. my body my choice

  48. - cicero - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:05 pm:

    == Why would you make it safer for purchasers to purchase something that it is still illegal to sell? ==

    That’s the way alcohol prohibition worked. It wasn’t illegal to possess, only to manufacture and distribute.

  49. - yinn - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    I said support, but only as a step toward legalization and regulation. We should be taxing and returning portions of the tax to local governments. This would help reverse the disturbing post-recession trend of dependence upon new and larger fine revenues to plug budget holes.

  50. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:10 pm:

    ==no matter white, black, hispanic,asian. Chicago & Cook Co want nothing to do with feeding or caring for you for any longer than neccasary==

    They certainly do want something to do with you if you’re black or brown. It’s why the city’s marijuana decriminalization has been a joke.

  51. - Grandson of Man - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:11 pm:

    I absolutely support decriminalizing one ounce of marijuana. I am so heartened to see that voters of all stripes support this. It’s not the legalization I want, but it’s the next step. That’s how we roll in Illinois, I guess (no pun intended), in steps.

  52. - Anonymous - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 4:53 pm:

    plenty of people buy an oz simply because they can get it at roughly half the price per gram as a gram or 1/8th($55-60 in il) if somones caught with a oz bagged up in alot of seperate baggies then they are probably dealing but if its all in 1 baggie then it easily could be for personal use
    i support an oz as the limit, depending on HOW its packaged though

  53. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:02 pm:

    - LBJ - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 1:30 pm:

    Its 2014. Most people who want to have it can get it and society has not come to a screeching halt. Colorado collected $2 million in tax revenues in January alone. Given the size of our population relative to Colorado’s, we might able to bring in $30 million annually.

    They estimate revenue at $150 million per year………

  54. - Old and in the Way - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:09 pm:

    The above is a little misleading. At present they are generating about 1/3 of that per annum. The above figure is potential. Sorry. However, lawmakers are concerned they may have to return some of the tax because of the TABOR law. Seems they have too much tax revenue…..

  55. - james - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:15 pm:

    For those saying an ounce is too much, this makes no sense. So then those that use it would have to go to the “drug dealer” much more often and pay higher prices. For those that need it for medical but may not be covered under this strict new medical law. This is a very good solution. And people are gonna smoke it anyways, there is no reason to limit it to a ridiculously small amount.

  56. - A modest proposal - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:24 pm:

    Anon - Good point. However, an O is still way too high for my liking.

    To all those who say legalize it and tax it. I am not completely opposed. I would like to see our medical marijuana law implemented first. In addition, we need more time too look at Colorado and Washington to see how their laws could be improved.

  57. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:26 pm:

    The war on drugs is Reefer Madness.

  58. - DuPage Saint - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 5:47 pm:

    Every politician since Clinton admits to smoking grass. If we keep it illegal maybe we could use it to get them out of offive

  59. - Hans Sanity - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 6:35 pm:

    If the choice is jail or a fine and no jail, support it.

    But don’t stop there.

    Support full legalization for adults. Treat cannabis like alcohol, not worse than alcohol — no limits on quantities possessed or intended use for adults.

    There is no cannabis poisoning.

    Do not tax it at higher rates than alcohol.

    Let Illinoisans grow their own for personal use without regulation.

  60. - danray - Thursday, Apr 3, 14 @ 7:46 pm:

    Why are the majority of Republicans always on the wrong side of inevitable destiny? Seriously, “out of touch” is 1 galaxy over. So transparent and obvious. Almost laughable.

  61. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 8:28 am:

    its cannabis not slang like marijuana,reefer,weed…try to be smart.

  62. - Skeptic - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 9:00 am:

    Legalize it and tax it

  63. - Skeptic - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 9:00 am:

    (I voted Yes)

  64. - Blair - Friday, Apr 4, 14 @ 11:54 am:

    People are safer in a car with seatbelts, but some still choose to ride motorcycles. People are safe on the ground, but some still choose to skydive. People choose to use marijuana, and the truth is that it doesn’t affect you personally at all. Decriminalization is the right step for 2014. It’s time to stop throwing OUR tax dollars at somebody else’s boogeyman. Each marijuana arrest creates an economic boat anchor in a community, because you’ve just invested your law enforcement dollars creating a new criminal our of a citizen who commits a victimless crime, someone who will no longer have the same earning power, someone who’s far more likely to require food stamps and welfare checks. If you’re against decriminalization, the best strategy to reduce government expenses would be to sign up marijuana offenders for WIC cards at the time of arrest, and save the state a step. Economic downturn much? Stop arresting Joe Six-Pack for marijuana possession, it hurts everyone.

    Regarding the comments above, stating that an ounce of marijuana is “too much” or represents a “drug dealer amount,” the adults that I know who still smoke generally purchase between a 1/2 oz to 1 oz for personal consumption. Buying an 1/8 oz or 1/4 is generally more expensive, and also purchasing a little more quantity means you’re not running out for pickups weekly. It reduces traffic to your dealer’s door as well.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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