Illinois Governor Eliminates Petty Marijuana Criminal Penalties
According to a recent news article, Governor Bruce Rauner has worked closely with representatives of the Illinois State Police and the legislature in order to essentially decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Lawmakers finalized Senate Bill 2228 on June 16, 2016, and sent it to the Governor, who signed it on July 27, 2016. Although Rauner failed to sign a similar measure into law last year, he indicated that he would be willing to sign it if legislators made certain provisions in the bill stronger, which they did.
The Practical Impact of SB 2228
SB 2228 eliminates any criminal penalties for possessing ten grams or less of marijuana. Instead, this level of possession will be a civil offense, punishable with a fine ranging from a minimum of $100 to a maximum of $200. If an individual has paraphernalia along with the pot, it is also a civil law violation with a $100 - $200 fine. Additionally, municipalities are required to purge citation records for marijuana possession every six months, unless local governments opt out of the requirement. This will help alleviate minor criminal records that formerly would have lasted for an individual’s lifetime. Finally, the bill has made driving under the influence of marijuana, as measured by the level of THC in a driver’s blood within two hours of consumption, a crime. Under the new law, there will have to be at least five nanograms of THC, which is marijuana’s intoxicating chemical, in a driver’s blood.
Illinois Joins Other States in Decriminalizing Small Amounts of Pot
Since the Governor signed this bill into law, Illinois has joined 16 other states that already have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of pot. Illinois is the third largest state to enact such a measure, after New York and California. While one of the chief sponsors of the bill, Senator Heather Steans, stated that Rauner previously agreed to sign the bill next month, Rauner has signed the bill and determined that the law is in the best interest of the public.
Purpose of SB 2228
Governor Rauner has acknowledged that in his opinion, the past penalties for petty marijuana offenses were too severe, and prosecution of these offenses was simply a drain on already overtaxed public resources. The implication of this is that law enforcement can now focus its efforts on more serious crimes. Furthermore, as many other states, and about 100 Illinois communities, already have essentially decriminalized some marijuana possession offenses, the new law will now promote consistency across the board in terms of petty marijuana violations.
Contact Your Naperville Marijuana Possession Lawyer Today
While the legislature has decriminalized minor marijuana possession cases, possession of larger amounts of marijuana is still a crime under Illinois law. If you are accused of marijuana possession beyond 10 grams, you still will face potential jail time, depending on the amount of marijuana involved and your previous criminal history. In this situation, the assistance of an experienced Naperville criminal defense lawyer can be essential to fighting marijuana charges and avoiding incarceration. Call the attorneys of Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today at 630-232-1780 or 630-232-1780, and learn how we can help you deal with any type of criminal charges that you may be facing.