Earlier today, the Illinois Senate approved House Bill 0218, sponsored by Senator Michael Noland, by a vote of 37 to 19. HB0218 creates a new civil law violation, non-criminal penalty (resulting in a fine) for a person found to be in possession of 15 grams of marijuana or less for personal use.

The following statement can be attributed to Khadine Bennett of the ACLU of Illinois:

With today’s vote, Illinois is moving forward by decriminalizing the possession of a small amount of marijuana. Moving this measure through the Senate and to the Governor for approval is a significant down payment on the job of improving our criminal justice system – a goal shared by the Governor and a strong bipartisan bloc within the General Assembly.

Most of all, today’s action sends a strong signal that Illinois is ready to abandon the destructive and discredited “War on Drugs,” where harsh penalties and discriminatory enforcement has resulted in thousands of persons – especially young men of color – being denied access to housing, to education and to employment. There is much work left to reverse the devastation caused by misguided criminal justice policies like imposing criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The ACLU of Illinois extends special appreciation for the hard work of Senator Michael Noland and Representative Kelly Cassidy, who made today’s victory possible. We urge the Governor to sign HB 218 into law.

Learn more about the bill.