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Illinois House of Representatives to Consider Decriminalizing Marijuana Possession

 Posted on June 01, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Illinois decriminalizing marijuana possession, Illinois Criminal Defense LawyerThe Illinois legislature is taking another shot at decriminalizing the possession of small quantities of marijuana. In recent years, the legislature has unsuccessfully attempted to accomplish decriminalization, with bills often being derailed during the approval process. A similar bill was proposed last year, but was vetoed by Governor Bruce Rauner. However, Governor Rauner offered guidance to legislators on how to modify the bill so that it would have better success at being approved—the governor was concerned that the old version of the bill allowed people to carry too much marijuana and did not require the payment of a large enough fine. The new bill, SB 2228 incorporates the governor’s guidance.

With so many other states legalizing the use, purchase and possession of marijuana, it seems thatstates like Illinois are slowly catching on that possession of small quantities of marijuana might not be such a horrible crime that warrants serious consequences, such as arrest, jail time, and a criminal record. There are more than 100 local communities in Illinois that have already passed local measures that remove criminal penalties from marijuana possession, when the quantity in question is small.

Current Marijuana Possession Law

Under the current law, Illinois takes a fairly strict stance against minor marijuana possession. Under 720 ILCS 550/4(c) of the Cannabis Control Act, possession of between 2.5 and 10 grams of cannabis is a Class B misdemeanor. Those who are convicted can face up to six months in jail and/or a fine.

However,under the new law, in its current form as SB 2228, possession of marijuana in the amount of 10 grams or less would be decriminalized to a civil law violation that is punishable by the payment of a one hundred to $200 fine. The bill also allows for individual towns and cities to add other penalties on top of the penalties prescribed by the bill, and would require that citations for marijuana possession under the new bill to be automatically expunged bi-annually.

Despite passage in the Illinois Senate by a vote of 40-14, there is strong opposition to the bill from law enforcement officers and advocates who are against the legalization of marijuana. Regardless, the bill is expected to pass in the House.

Until minor marijuana possession is decriminalized, possession of between two and a half and ten grams is a Class B misdemeanor. Remember, if you are arrested for marijuana possession in Illinois, then it is important to get into contact with a drug offenses lawyer to help mitigate or reduce the charges you face, or get the charges dismissed altogether.

Let Us Assist You Today

While the proposed bill to decriminalize possession of a small quantity of marijuana is presently before the House of Representatives for review, that does not mean that marijuana possession has been decriminalized yet. If you are facing criminal charges for possession of a small quantity of marijuana, you should reach out to an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney at our office for help. We can help protect your rights throughout your case.


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