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The War on Drugs is exacting a terrible cost on our friends, families, and communities

Illinois voters want to reduce sentences for low-level drug possession.

It's time to take a public health approach to reducing the harms associated with substance use.



Currently, possession of any amount of a controlled substance is a felony in Illinois.

SB 1830 would reclassify possession of low-level amounts as a Class A Misdemeanor instead.


Here's what those amounts look like:

Roughly 5 grams = a packet of raw sugar

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About 1 gram = a packet of artificial sweetener

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Roughly 3.5 grams = a sugar packet

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Carrying a sugar packet's worth of drugs shouldn't be a felony.

SB 1830 would reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and reduce barriers to recovery for thousands of Illinoisans.


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There are 1,189 individual laws in Illinois that punish people with criminal records. 
  • In Illinois, people with a felony drug conviction can be denied access to safety net supports like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
  • People with records are commonly denied housing from both private-market landlords and public housing.
  • 75% of the criminal history background checks in Illinois are for educational access to degrees or programs in the public health field.


Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts, ACLU of Illinois, Cook County Department of Public Health, and the Illinois Justice Project issued a comprehensive report that provides an overview of Illinois drug laws; outlines the harmful effects and high costs of Illinois' drug policy; and examines why concerns about fentanyl should not change the need to decrease penalties for drug possession.

The report recommends that Illinois implement a public health approach to drug use, including shifting resources away from the failed strategy of arresting and incarcerating people who use drugs. Instead, IIllinois should reclassify simple possession of a personal use quantity of a controlled substance from a felony to a Class A misdemeanor.


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