Heath Alseike

Illinois Gov. Rauner Signs Decriminalization Bill

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) signed a bill on Friday to decriminalize cannabis, making the possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis only a ticket-able offense — as opposed to its previous classification as a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months of jail time and $1,500 in fines — the Chicago Tribune reports.

With the governor’s signature, the new legislation takes immediate effect, marking a rare, bipartisan collaboration on the part of state Democrats and Republican Gov. Rauner.

Under the new law, those caught with 10 or fewer grams of cannabis will face fines from $100 to $200. Cannabis citations will be automatically expunged twice a year: on January 1 and July 1.

The change also loosens Illinois’ strict zero tolerance DUI laws regarding cannabis use, choosing instead to adopt a system similar to those established in Washington and Colorado: drivers in Illinois can now be charged with a cannabis DUI only if they are caught with 5 or more nanograms of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms in their saliva.

“We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy,” said Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This commonsense legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest.”

The law follows a Chicago decriminalization measure from 2012. Dozens of Illinois localities already have some form of decriminalization measures on the books — the new statewide law does not overrule these local laws, but instead creates uniformity for all of the places that haven’t yet passed marijuana reforms.

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