Springfield, IL: Senate lawmakers approved legislation last week decriminalizing minor marijuana possession offenses. Members of the House had previously approved the measure in April. The measure awaits action from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, whose office has pledged to "carefully consider" the legislation.
House Bill 218 reduces penalties involving the possession of up to 15 grams of marijuana from a Class A criminal misdemeanor (punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a fine up to $2,500, and a criminal record) to a petty offense punishable by a fine of no more than $125 – no arrest, and no criminal record.
Illinois is #5 in the nation in per capita marijuana possession arrests. Those arrested are disproportionately people of color. For example, in Chicago, some 95 percent of those arrested for marijuana possession are either Black or Hispanic.
The bill also amends the state’s zero tolerance DUI limits for the presence of THC in blood.
Fifteen states currently have similar decriminalization laws in effect. Three states – Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon – previously decriminalized marijuana possession offenses, but have since legalized the plant’s use, production, and retail sale.
For more information, please contact Illinois NORML online at: http://website.illinoisnorml.org/home.