Illinois Governor signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on July 31, 2016.

Marijuana possession in small amounts will no longer be a serious crime in Illinois after Republican Governor Bruce Rauner signed legislation on Friday, amending the state’s marijuana possession penalties. The Senate Bill 2228 became new law and came into effect immediately.

The new law reduces the penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offence, punishable with a fine of no more than $200; no arrest and no criminal record will be registered either. 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 2.5 grams of marijuana was a class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500; possession of 2.5-10 grams was a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.

The law would also loosen the state's zero-tolerance policy for driving under the influence of marijuana. The drivers won't be charged with DUI unless they have 5 nanograms or more of THC in their blood, or 10 nanograms or more of THC in their saliva.

"We applaud Governor 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.

The governor's signature makes Illinois the 17th state and the third largest in the USA to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

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