Daniel X. O'Neil

Illinois Decriminalization Bill Heads to Gov. Rauner for Signature

The Illinois legislature has approved a decriminalization bill that changes the penalty for possessing personal amounts of cannabis from a criminal offense to a civil one, punishable with fines instead of potential jail time, The Chicago Tribune reports.

The bill compounds on a proposal from last year that was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner for being too lax on marijuana users. As per recommendations from the governor, this year’s proposal lowers the amount of cannabis that can be carried (without facing criminal charges) from 15 grams to 10 grams, and increases the fine for such an offense from between $55 and $125 to between $100 and $200.

The governor is expected to sign the bill, though has said that he believers there are more pressing issues facing the Illinois legislature.

“Illinois is long overdue for creating marijuana policies that treat our residents more fairly and free law enforcement up for more serious crime,” said bill sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) in a statement. “We should not spend our resources arresting and jailing people just for the possession of a small amount of marijuana.”

Current Illinois law calls the possession of 10 grams of cannabis a class B misdemeanor, punishable with up to six months of jail time and fines as high as $1,500.

The law also changes Illinois’ current zero-tolerance policy in regards to drugged driving, establishing a system to regulate driving under the influence of marijuana that would be similar to those currently being used in Washington and Colorado.

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