Illinois one step closer to decriminalizing small amounts of hard drugs, police disagree

State News

(WTVO) — Illinois is one step closer to decriminalizing the possession of certain amounts of hard drugs.

A newly proposed bill would make possession of up to 3 grams of heroin and fentanyl, and 5 grams of cocaine a misdemeanor instead of a felony.

Supporters say the idea is to keep felonies off addicts’ criminal records. According to the ACLU of Illinois, 20,000 people in Illinois were convicted of felonies for possessing small amounts of drugs, and 7,500 were imprisoned 2016 to 2018.

One Illinois police chief says he supports the idea but believes the amount for each drug should be lowered.

“I have been working narcotics for years. Three grams is not personal use. That should be maybe 1 gram or below,”said Taylorville Police Chief Dwayne Wheeler.

“These drug dealers out here on the street will take advantage of this bill, and they will start recruiting younger kids to deliver to people,” Chief Wheeler said.

The bill now heads to the Senate. If passed, it would also retroactively expunge the records of people with felony charges for possession up to the proposed misdemeanor amounts.

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