Urbana Council Takes Final Vote On Marijuana Fine Reduction

marijuana plants

In this Oct. 3, 2012 file photo, marijuana plants are seen in Chicago where officers say they discovered two football fields worth of pot plants growing on the city's South Side. Illinois lawmakers are again trying to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana but face strong opposition from law enforcement and anti-pot advocates.

Teresa Crawford/Associated Press

Urbana Alderman Aaron Ammons says the city’s $300 fine for possessing small amounts of marijuana has an unreasonable impact on poorer neighborhoods.  The Urbana City Council takes a final vote Monday on dropping that fine from $300 to $50, a week after it passed on an initial 4-3 vote.  The fine applies to someone caught with less than 30 grams of the drug.

Ammons calls the current fine "egregious" - and says it disproportionately impacts African-Americans in Urbana.

“I think it immediately addresses the economic disparity that exists in the enforcement of that particular ordinance," he said. "And certainly it creates the context for us to look at the actual reasons why there was a racial disparity in the first place.”

Ammons says $300 is too large a fine, given the sentiment now around the country for those using marijuana, for either recreational or medicinal purposes.

The Ward 3 Alderman also hopes one day to make a fine the only possible penalty for marijuana possession in Urbana.  Ammons says officers still have the option of ticketing someone, or charging them with a misdemeanor.

The Urbana City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the city building.

Story source: WILL