Illinois may follow the path of sixteen other states and revise its out-of-date, discriminatory laws against marijuana, writes. State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) introduced legislation, now under consideration in the Illinois House, to address the incredibly high expenditures required to enforce current anti-marijuana laws in Illinois. These laws also are enforced disproportionately on people of color, especially young men of color. Though pot-use percentages are similar across all social and racial demographics, studies show that in Chicago, since August 2012 when the city lowered possession penalties, 78 percent of those arrested for possessing small amounts, were black. This cost the Chicago Police Department in 2013 over $23 million, and 46,000 police man-power hours. Cassidy’s bill, which is supported by the ACLU of Illinois, approaches the problem with a solid understanding of all sides of the drug-use issue, from law enforcement safety needs as well as the long term impact of possession records. The bill focuses on less criminality, not on decriminalization, and it would expunge possession records. Ed Yohnka, ACLU of Illinois Director of Communications and Public Policy, maintains that Cassidy’s bill would avoid the:

“collateral damage in housing, financial aid and public housing,” and that (afflict) people who are found to be in possession of such small amounts, (that) “we feel should not be criminalized.”

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