Rep. Kelly Cassidy has been a member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 2011, when she won her first election. Having been a prosecutor as well as a legislative director for the Chicago chapter of the National Organization for Women before working for John Cullerton, the president of the Illinois Senate, she is fully aware of the problems some of the most hard-pressed face. Part of those problems is having a criminal record for something like marijuana possession. To that end, Cassidy has introduced HB 4357 to decriminalize personal possession amounts of marijuana.
HB 4357 would convert possession for up to 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal penalty to a civil law violation. This changes a charge that can result in hundreds if not thousands of dollars in costs and fees as well as potential jail time to something that is punishable by only a fine of $100 to $200 and absolutely no jail time. It also allows for the same penalty for any possession charges that are levied at the same time of arrest for possession. Perhaps most importantly, however, it also allows for automatic expungement of the violation so that there is no permanent criminal record on the person’s record.
Rep. Cassidy’s bill is basically the same as HB 218, a previous bill that was approved by both the House and the Senate – but vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner with a request for an amendment. This bill was introduced at a press conference in which Rep. Cassidy was joined by 50 clergy members who have endorsed a Religious Declaration For New Drug Policy.