Gov. Rauner Signs Decriminalization Bill for State of Illinois

“Getting caught with small amounts of marijuana will result in citations akin to a traffic ticket instead of the possibility of jail time under legislation Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law Friday.  Rauner’s approval of the decriminalization measure comes after he used his amendatory veto powers last year to rewrite legislation he argued would have allowed people to carry too much pot and fine violators too little.  Supporters incorporated his proposed changes, and under the new law those caught with up to 10 grams of marijuana will face fines ranging between $100 and $200. Individual municipalities could add to the fines and implement other penalties, such as requiring offenders to attend drug treatment. Citations would be automatically expunged twice a year, on Jan. 1 and July 1.  Under previous Illinois law, possession of up to 10 grams of pot was a class B misdemeanor that could result in up to six months in jail and fines of up to $1,500.  The law also would loosen the state’s zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence. Before, a driver could be charged if any trace of marijuana was detected, even if it was ingested weeks before and the driver showed no signs of impairment.  Under the new law, drivers won’t be charged with a DUI unless they have 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more of THC in their saliva.  The effort marks a rare point of agreement between Rauner and Democrats as both sides seek to cut the burden on the court system and overhaul the state’s approach to criminal justice.  “We applaud Gov. Rauner and the legislature for replacing Illinois’s needlessly draconian marijuana possession law with a much more sensible policy,” Chris Lindsey, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “This commonsense legislation will prevent countless citizens from having their lives turned upside down by a marijuana possession arrest.”

By Monique Garcia, Chicago Tribune

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-illinois-marijuana-decriminalzation-0730-20160729-story.html

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