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Senate Bill Aims To Legalize Small Amounts Of Pot

By John Dodge

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Illinois residents could possess or grow a small amount of marijuana without fear of criminal charges, if a bill in the state Senate becomes law.

SB 753 would amend current statute and decriminalize the possession of 30 grams or less of cannabis. The bill would also allow for five cannabis plants.

Anybody under the age of 21 would still be charged with a possession crime.

The bill's sponsor is Sen. Michael Noland of Elgin. The legislation was introduced on Tuesday and has been referred to the Assignments Committee.

Thirty grams are the equivalent of just more than an ounce.

Currently, possession of up to 30 grams is a misdemeanor, but subsequent offenses could bring a stiffer felony charge.

Over in the House, HB 218, introduced last month, would make possession of 30 grams or less subject to a $100 fine, but it would no longer be considered a misdemeanor.

SB 753--Marijuana Possession

The state recently enacted the legal purchase and use of marijuana for medical purposes. So far, about 700 residents have successfully applied to use medical marijuana.

Gov. Bruce Rauner this week also approved applications from companies that would either grown or sell the drug. Elgin is one of the districts selected to grow medical marijuana

Chicago passed a law in 2012 that allowed police to issue tickets of $250 to $500 for someone caught with 15 grams or less of pot, rather than make arrests.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has also urged the state to ease laws that make marijuana possession a crime.

Law enforcement experts say that arresting people for small amounts of the drug is a waste of resources and clogs the court system.

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