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Fewer marijuana charges in Urbana after possession policy change

URBANA, Ill. — New statistics from police in Urbana, Illinois, show misdemeanor charges for cannabis possession, delivery or manufacturing are down significantly in the city.

Urbana police Chief Sylvia Morgan was scheduled to review ordinance and arrest data for City Council members Monday, The News-Gazette reported. She also was to discuss how the department has enforced cannabis-related offenses.

The statistics show that misdemeanor charges for cannabis possession, delivery or manufacturing dropped from 77 in 2016 to 17 last year. They also show that felony possession of cannabis has become a rare offense for the city, with just one case each in 2016 and 2017 after seven in 2013.

The review comes nearly two years after the city lowered the penalty for possessing less than 30 grams of cannabis from $300 to $50.

Illinois lawmakers are expected to debate a bill this year that would legalize recreational marijuana.

“The goal of legalization is not to encourage use, it’s to admit the reality that use is already happening, and accept that we need to regulate it the way we do for even more harmful substances like alcohol or tobacco,” said state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, D-Chicago, one of the proponents.

Morgan said she believes legalization is inevitable in Illinois.

Information from: The News-Gazette